Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered the partial demolition of a building in Preah Sihanouk city that was built on state land by a private company belonging to the provincial governor’s wife, officials said.
The single story 24-unit terraced structure near Independence Beach was under construction until just last week when Mr Hun Sen ordered that it be knocked down following complaints that it hurt tourism, Council of Minister’s spokesman Phay Siphan said Sunday.
“Samdech [Hun Sen] ordered the Kompong Som governor to stop construction and demolish the building in response to the public,” Mr Siphan said, referring to Preah Sihanouk Governor Sboang Sarath. The prime minister “wants to protect the public interest.”
The decision follows an inter-ministerial committee study of the building, he said.
Governor Sarath said Sunday by telephone that his wife’s company and several others, whose names he could not recall, were involved in the project. The land, he said, is owned by the city and the project was designed for entertainment, which he did not elaborate on. The buildings will be transformed into open-air, kiosk-like structures, he added.
“We cannot demolish the concrete and build the one with thatch. We just demolish spots that look not suitable,” he said. “We fixed it in the proper way.”
Chan Chamroeun, the provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said that Mr Sarath’s wife’s company, Sean Heng company, was involved in a bitter land dispute with local vendors regarding the project.
“The people who used to sell here were scared and moved out,” he said of the site where the governor’s wife had chosen to build her buildings.
Mr Hun Sen has involved himself in other Preah Sihanouk city projects related to government officials.
In April 2009, the premier suggested that malevolent spirits would haunt former Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Say Hak if he did not turn his house atop the city’s highest hill into a pagoda.
“I did not [give permission] for Say Hak to build on top of that mountain,” Mr Hun Sen said at the time, warning that the governor must abide by his demand to vacate the hilltop.