Prime Minister Hun Sen inaugurated Cambodia’s newest Olympic-size swimming pool in Kompong Cham province on Wednesday, a $1.5 million facility named after himself and marked as a venue for the 2023 South East Asian (SEA) Games.
“From now on, male and female swimmers, including our people with disabilities, can use this place for regional, national and international contests. Now we have a decent place,” the prime minister said in a televised speech from the Techo Sen Swimming Center in Kompong Cham City.
“I can say proudly that the country has peace and political stability, so we can develop whatever we want,” he added, seemingly ignoring the fact that the opposition is currently boycotting parliament in protest of a series of physical attacks, court cases and legally dubious National Assembly ejections widely seen as politically motivated.
Mr. Hun Sen said the facility was built with the help of private donations and would spur the local economy because future competitions would bring business for the town’s restaurateurs and hoteliers.
Also at the inauguration was Commerce Minister Sun Chanthol, who presides over the Cambodian Swimming Federation. He said it was the first major aquatic facility in the province since a 25-meter-long pool was built by a French banker in 1944 to serve the country’s expatriates and local elite that had long since fallen into disrepair. He said the province was also chosen for its swimming pedigree; it produced swimmers who medaled for Cambodia at SEA Games and Olympic Games in the 1960s and 1970s.
At 50 meters long—matching the pool at Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium—the new facility would spare swimming enthusiasts from having to resort to the area’s lakes and rivers.
“At present, Kompong Cham province has no swimming pool because the pool built during the French regime was never restored,” he said. “So swimming lovers and the two national swimmers in Kompong Cham province have been using the Tonle Bith to practice during the dry season and Boeng Kansom to practice in the rainy season.”
“Seeing these difficulties, and with great attention to the swimming sports sector, Samdech Techo Prime Minister [Hun Sen] authorized and encouraged the construction of the Techo Sen Swimming Center in Kompong Cham in order to bring the swimming sector in Cambodia to the international stage.”
In addition to the main 25-meter-by-50-meter pool, he said, the facility also has a 25-meter-by-25-meter diving pool, a 10-meter-by-15-meter warm-up pool and seating for 205 spectators.
The center will be a venue for the 2023 SEA Games alongside a multimillion-dollar sports complex that broke ground in Phnom Penh in 2013. Construction of that facility was awarded to a firm belonging to ruling-party Senator Ly Yong Phat; the first phase of the nine-year project is budgeted at $39 million.
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