Prime Minister Warns ‘Bad Officials’ Over Building Violations

Days after City Hall ordered NagaWorld casino to halt its expansion because it was damaging Phnom Penh’s beauty, Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday warned “bad officials” to stop allowing construction projects to damage the country’s aesthetic allure.

In a post to his official Facebook page, Mr. Hun Sen said the NagaWorld expansion had “abused” state land along the city’s streets and “affected” the Buddhist Institute, which is located next to the casino.

Motorists drive past a construction site that is part of an expansion of NagaWorld casino in Phnom Penh on Sunday. (Jens Welding Ollgaard/The Cambodia Daily)
Motorists drive past a construction site that is part of an expansion of NagaWorld casino in Phnom Penh on Sunday. (Jens Welding Ollgaard/The Cambodia Daily)

“Construction that has abused and exploited the public roadside land and public gardens must be removed immediately. And concerned local authorities and relevant ministries must be responsible,” it said.

The post said that companies would also be held to account for construction projects that expanded onto state land or violated their building permits.

“Even though up to now the head of government has not known, all of those things cannot really be hidden from the eyes of the public,” it said. “Samdech Hun Sen absolutely no longer allows those bad officials to continue to destroy the nation’s image.”

City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche declined to comment on the prime minister’s warning.

“I don’t know because this is the jurisdiction of the Land Management Ministry,” he said.

Cheam Phalkunmakara, spokesman for the ministry, said that officials there would inspect, monitor and punish companies or officials found to be violating their construction permits.

“During construction, if we monitor and see if they make any fault, we will just let them correct the parts that affect the public land or public interest, like by asking them to remove it,” he said.

Asked whether NagaWorld or officials overseeing the project would face punishment, Mr. Phalkunmakara said it was too soon to tell.

“Regarding this, we will look at the legal aspects,” he said. “And we also need to have a discussion to find the scope of the punishment based on the scope of their fault.”

The spokesman said that the government would meet with representatives of NagaWorld for a “negotiation” before any punishment is handed down, and that the meeting would take place after NagaWorld had made an official request to resume building.

“If the company has legal evidence to show us clearly, we would not take legal action against it,” he said. “So the result will be shown after the negotiation meeting.”

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