“The municipal governor [Pa Socheatvong] will deliver the announcement to the owners of the buildings, ordering them to remove the [extra floors] by themselves. We will give them one month to do this, but if they do not implement the order, we will demolish them ourselves.”
Municipal spokesman Long Dimanche, 21 October, 2013, The Cambodia Daily
“Samdech Hun Sen encouraged investors to construct the highest building and said the government would give letters of admiration [for doing so], but I have built only 12 floors so I don’t understand why they want to demolish my apartment. I will resist the demolition through the courts to find justice, even though my head has been cut off and dropped to the floor.”
Sin Kim Heng, the owner of the apartment block on Street 19, 21 October, 2013, The Cambodia Daily
“I have built a King statue on the top of my building because I love the King and respect my King,”
Sin Kim Heng, 22 April 2014, The Cambodia Daily
“We should keep the King statue because it was already built, but the government should destroy some parts of the building higher than the Royal Palace.”
Former secretary to the King Father Prince Sisowath Thomico, 22 April 2014, The Cambodia daily
Developer Sin Kim Heng may try to be clever. He pretends not to know why Pa Socheatvong wants a few floors of his building demolished. Here is the reason: Hun Sen encourages investors like him, in his quotation, to build “the highest” building, not just a high building. And the problem is that his twelve floor building is not the tallest. It would need at least 39 floors to fit the CPP prime minister’s bill. Currently, the tallest one is the Vattanac Capital building with 38 floors. If the developer monkeys around a bit longer, to be the tallest his building will have to be higher than the two Golden Towers, which are earmarked for 42 floors. Thus, it is unlikely the developer will get the admiration letter, if Hun Sen means the way he is quoted.
Would the developer rather have his head chopped off than lowering his building? He sounds like Hun Sen who vows to cut his head off – not that he physically could – unless his personal interest groups obey his logging moratorium. But why do they like to dramatise with the decapitation when they are lying?
Anyhow, the developer is not without connection. He must be one of the hotshots to get Pa Socheatvong to deliver him the demolition order. Better still, the governor is now on second thought about accusing him of violating the city’s height rules; instead of executing the initial threat, he sets up a committee to consider the issue. It is a well-known and effective tactic to use a committee or inquiry to stuff up anything. Had explorer Christopher Columbus waited for any committee, he would still be sitting at the pier of Palos de la Frontera.
But someone has a brilliant mind that may save the building top from being chopped off. The trick is, with all the love and respect of Sin Kim Heng, to put a statue of the late King Father on the top of it with his right hand raised seemingly to stop the demolition. The idea wins over Prince Thomico, who would keep the statue, but insist that the top part come down. The King Father would then look like standing on a pole in mid air like policeman directing traffic. The late King Father would turn over in his grave, had he been buried, not cremated.
Adviser to the Queens secretariat Oum Daravuth, however, wants the statue removed, but says nothing about the building height. This should make way for another win-win compromise: the statue can go, and Sin Kim Heng can keep the height and his head. In death and as in life, King Sihanouk still remains of use to someone – friends or foes. How amazing.
After the dust settles, those lucky occupants in top floors of the building will enjoy a majestic view of the Palace ground, observing what are being done to the Late King Father’s family. The CPP prime minister would say this is how his transparency works best in practice.
Ung Bun Ang