Siem Reap Provincial Police have asked permission to build a new headquarters inside the Angkor Archeological Park, a UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage protected area, a Unesco official said Monday.
Unesco is encouraging the Apsara Authority, the government organization managing the Angkor complex, to protect the intended site near the airport from being built on, Unesco culture program specialist Tamara Teneishvili said.
Teneishvili said she believes police intend the proposed building as the new police headquarters, which are currently located on prime real estate near retired King Norodom Sihanouk’s residence in the center of Siem Reap town.
“We are really concerned about construction,” Teneishvili said. “This area is a protected area” due to its proximity to Angkor Wat, she added.
Although the airport is also located inside the protected area, it was built before the protection zone was designated, she said.
The police would normally need the approval of the Apsara Authority to build there, she added. Soeun Kong, deputy director general of the Apsara Authority in Siem Reap, said Monday that he had heard that police were hoping to relocate their headquarters near the airport.
“Now they have just built the fence,” around the proposed site, he said. “I don’t know what they will do with the old place. It is their internal affair,” he said.
Nguon Bophal, Siem Reap provincial police commissioner, referred questions about the future of the current police headquarters to the Ministry of Finance.
“Only the Ministry of Finance has the right to sell it,” he said.
Kong Vibol, secretary of state at the Finance Ministry, said he was in a meeting and unable to speak to a reporter.
Interior Ministry Spokesman Khieu Sopheak could not be reached for comment.
A slew of state land swap deals between private companies and government officials have come to light recently. On Friday, National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh said that ministers would be called to answer questions in front of the Assembly regarding land swaps. He did not set a date for the ministers’ questioning.
On Jan 18, Phanimex Co Ltd Director Suy Sophan announced that the Phnom Penh Municipal Police Headquarters has been traded with the property investment firm in exchange for Phanimex building a new police headquarters outside the city center.
Previously in Siem Reap, the prime realty on which the province’s colonial-era prison was located was traded in 1999 to the Sokimex company in return for a new prison built on the outskirts of the town.
Sokimex secured a similar deal with the government in 1998 for the site on which Phnom Penh’s T3 prison was once located.