Premier holds first meeting at new office

Prime Minister Hun Sen attended his first meeting at the imposing, brand-new office for his Cabinet on Russian Boulevard in Phnom Penh yesterday, according to his assistant Eang Sophalleth.

“It is the first meeting,” Mr Sophalleth said after the meeting, which was closed to journalists. Mr Sophalleth said the building would be officially inaugurated “soon sometime this week or on the weekend.”

He said he had no further details about the building’s design or construction.

The premier met behind closed doors yesterday with a representative of 29 young Cambodians about to embark on a visit by ship to Japan and Asean countries, Mr Sophalleth explained.

The 52-day trip is part of the Japanese-government supported Ship for Southeast Asia Youth program.

“Samdech [Hun Sen] told them to be dignified because as the Southeast Asian youth of Cambodia, they represent 14 million people,” Mr Sophalleth said.

Construction workers were still busy yesterday putting the finishing touches on the new building, located alongside the $32.9 million, Chinese-funded Council of Ministers building.

Mr Hun Sen said in a speech in August 2009 that he had helped design his new office, which at the time he said would be 120 meters by 45 meters and seven floors high. The building was intended to host conferences as well as house his office.

Officials were either unavailable yesterday or unable to supply details on the new office, saying they were ignorant of particulars.

Senior officials with contractor Ly Chhuong Construction said there were still 500 workers at the site, down from 2,000.

Construction began on the building in May 2009, soon after the March 2009 opening of the new Council of Ministers office, which reportedly caused consternation among senior government officials because of its design and decor.

Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said the new building was for Mr Hun Sen’s Cabinet and advisers but would also be used for “hosting international functions [that are] government-related.” He said this additional use would save the government money.

   (Additional reporting by Clancy McGilligan)


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