Union Leader Asks Governor To Set Statue Discussion Dates

Free Trade Union (FTU) Presi­dent Chea Mony yesterday wrote to Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema, reiterating a request to set a date for talks over the construction of a statue honoring his assassinated brother, the late FTU leader Chea Vichea.

Permission to build the statue was finally granted by Prime Min­­ister Hun Sen on Dec. 31, following eight years of repeated re­quests by Mr. Mony.

“I would like to request for you to kindly set a date to meet with the Free Trade Union in order to push the building of a Chea Vi­chea statue in an efficient and timely manner, according to the wishes of Chea Vichea’s family and workers,” Mr. Mony said in his letter.

Mr. Hun Sen’s approval for the statue came with a note assigning Mr. Chuktema to coordinate the construction of the monument to the slain union chief.

Contacted yesterday, Mr. Chuk­tema said he had already met with Mr. Mony since Mr. Hun Sen’s decision was made and that a date had been set to continue their talks, but he did not say when.

“We met once, but [Mr. Mony] took a step back to think of ways to raise funds for the statue,” Mr. Chuk­­tema said. “We agreed in prin­ci­ple with each other on this building.”

Mr. Mony countered, saying that his last request to meet the governor on Feb. 14 had gone unanswered.

Plans are for the statue to be a life-size likeness of the late union leader with a microphone in hand addressing a crowd, fashioned from either mar­ble or metal. Mr. Vichea was gunned down at a busy newspaper stand outside Phnom Penh’s Wat Lanka on Jan. 22, 2004. No one has yet been brought to justice for his murder.

The cost of the statue, which will stand somewhere inside the park west of Independence Monument, is to be split between several unions.

Pung Chhiv Kek, president of local rights group Licadho, said the governor should get the cogs turning on the project.

“The prime minister gave the green light to build it, so I hope the gov­ernor of Phnom Penh will take the time to meet Chea Mo­ny,” she said.

  (Additional reporting by Lauren Crothers)


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