The Ministry of Social Affairs has swapped one of its spacious buildings at a prime location on Norodom Boulevard in Phnom Penh, but officials were tightlipped about the deal Tuesday.
Three laborers were seen erecting steel posts Tuesday to build a new fence in front of the ministry’s directorate of technical affairs opposite Sisowath High School.
Prak Chanthoeun, director of the ministry’s directorate of technical affairs, confirmed that the building had been swapped with an unidentified private party that has agreed to construct two new five-story buildings inside the new Social Affairs Ministry on Monivong Boulevard in Chamkar Mon district.
“It was swapped,” he said, adding that civil servants had already moved into the Ministry’s compound just before the Khmer New Year.
Mr Prak Chanthoeun said he knew little else about the deal, but was confident that the deal must have been gone through a transparent bidding process.
“As far as I know, it was very correct in accordance to the procedure,” he said.
An Interior Ministry police officer who has been guarding the directorate building since 1997 refused to give his name due to the sensitivity of the deal, but said by telephone Tuesday that the new owner is a South Korean man.
“A Korean national came to visit it in early April, and he didn’t know a word of Khmer,” the police officer said, adding that all civil servants had left the building as of Jan 12.
Social Affairs Minister Ith Sam Heng hung up when a reporter identified himself Tuesday. Secretary of State Say Siphonn referred the questions to the administration department, while Secretary of State Yi Yaun told a reporter to speak with the minister.
SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua said Tuesday that the public has been left in the dark regarding these sorts of deals.
“Which are the buildings to be swapped, and why swap?” she asked, adding that Prime Minister Hun Sen had already promised to put an end to such deals.