Prince Calls NagaCorp Casino Building “Ugly”

Prince Norodom Ranariddh called the controversial new Naga­Corp casino building “most ugly” on Tuesday as he toured the new National Assembly building, currently under construction in the massive casino’s shadows.

Speaking to reporters at the Assembly construction site, the prince looked up at the casino, turned to CPP parliamentarians Nguon Nhel and Cheam Yeap and remarked, “What an ugly building it is! It looks like two ships.”

The new site of Naga casino, which moved last year from a moored yacht outside the Mi Casa apartments, has drawn criticism for its placement near the Buddhist Institute and the new parliament building. For years, critics have said the CPP-led government has unfairly catered to NagaCorp, a subsidiary of Mal­aysian-owned Ariston Ltd.

Along with the two CPP parliamentarians and several others, the prince on Tuesday toured the site with fellow royalists Infor­mation Minister Lu Laysreng and Senator Khieu San, who also took the opportunity to criticize the new casino and hotel.

“A sniper could use that building” to harm parliamentarians, Khieu San said. “This is what we have to worry about.”

Reached by telephone on Tuesday, Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema said it was too late for quips about the NagaCorp project.

“It’s all over,” he said.

The Assembly building itself has come under fire for troublesome construction contracts awarded to the family members of Cheam Yeap, who sits as chairman of the Assembly’s construction committee.

The building will be finished by the end of 2007, Cheam Yeap said Tuesday.

“The new building will provide a working environment in a way we can work better. The current building is too narrow,” he said.


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