Siem Reap Museum Moves Ahead

Construction on a multi-million dollar museum and shopping mall complex in Siem Reap is due to begin this year, government officials said Wednesday. The project is to be funded by the Vilailuks, a Thai family with a major stake in telecommunications conglomerate Samart and a serious interest in artifacts.

The investor and the Cam­bodian government have signed a 25-year contract for the museum, which will put management of the building and its contents in the hands of the Ministry of Culture.

“A Thai investor has responded to finance the project, but we will run the project, so both will benefit,” said Seng Limnov, undersecretary of state for the Council of Ministers and head of a committee for the museum’s construction.

Some artifacts will be transferred from the National Mu­seum in Phnom Penh to fill the new gallery, while others will be taken from various Siem Reap storage facilities, Seng Limnov said.

Government officials declined to comment on the exact figure to be invested in the project. But Prince Sisowath Panara Serey­vuth, secretary of state for the Ministry of Culture on Wednes­day estimated that the Angkor National Mu­seum, as the new facility is to be known, will require an investment of no less than $10 million.

Work on the museum is due to begin later this year, and should be completed in 2004, Seng Limnov said. The complex will also include a restaurant, souvenir shopping center and other entertainment venues, he said. The Nation newspaper in Thai­land this week reported that the new complex could also incorporate Cam­bodia’s first McDonald’s.

“We are building [the museum] to catch tourists, make them stay in Siem Reap longer and make them spend more money,” Seng Limnov explained.

The Vilailuk International Holding Co currently operates three businesses in Cambodia: Cellular network operator Samart Cambodia Communication, mo­bile telephone outlet Samart Cam­bodia, and Cambodia Air-Traffic Services, which operates the national air traffic control system.

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