Overseer of Temples Fired From Aspara

Cambodian architect and scholar Vann Molyvann, who designed Phnom Penh’s Independence Monument and Olympic Stadium, has been ousted from the presidency of Apsara Authority, the government agency which oversees the temples of Angkor, officials said.

Bun Narith, the authority’s former deputy president and Vann Molyvann’s designated replacement, said Thursday that a royal decree issued this week made the firing official.

Vann Molyvann did not return phone calls Thursday, but his wife said he would hold a news conference today at 10 am at his home on Mao Tse-Tung Boule­vard in Phnom Penh.

Bun Narith said he would probably keep Vann Molyvann on as his adviser. Bun Narith added that he was not thrilled with the promotion for himself.

“Well, I’m not really happy with that, because I’m quite worried about the new job. But because the promotion was made by royal decree, I will do my best,” he said.

Neither the royal decree nor Bun Narith provided a reason for the change.

Sum Manit, secretary of state for the Council of Ministers, said that Vann Molyvann could still be retained as an adviser.

Vann Molyvann’s work has set the tone for much of Cambodia’s architecture, and his work continues to dominate Phnom Penh’s  skyline today as it did in Cam­bodia’s early post-colonial period.

Famed for his synthesis between ancient Khmer and modern designs, Vann Moly­vann’s most famous work is probably Olympic Stadium, which he undertook to build in 1962. King Norodom Sihanouk supervised the stadium’s dedication in 1964.

“Personally, I pay full respect to him. I’ll never forget his important architectural achievements, like Chaktomuk Hall, Indepen­dence Monument, and Olympic Stadium,” said Long Seam, director of the National Language Institute of Royal Academy of Cambodia. “He not only was the top architect who fully served the country, but even today, no one could compete with him.”

As president of the Apsara Authority—created by royal de­cree in 1995—Vann Moly­vann oversaw projects such as the restoration of the porch on the western entrance to Angkor Wat, the restoration of the dilapidated northern library of the Bayon temple and the conservation of apsara and other stone reliefs.

The agency also has projects searching for ancient Angkorian kilns and is training national architects, archaeologists and engineers around the temples.

Under a 1999 agreement, Soki­mex, a prominent petroleum company, was to pay the government $1 million per year in return for ticket concessions.

The company was to pocket anything above that figure. But with tourism on the rise in the last three years, the government, led by Vann Moly­­vann, called for a renegotiation of the deal to give the government more profits from ticket sales.

 

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