Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday took to Facebook to warn companies against “colluding with bad officials” to illegally construct buildings on public parks and sidewalks, ordering those that have already done so to dismantle them immediately.
The premier cited a recent inspection of Phnom Penh casino NagaWorld. He said NagaCorp Ltd’s expansion of the casino was violating a public sidewalk and land owned by the Buddhist Institute.
Following his inspection last week, Naga was ordered to pull apart some of the structure and to delay construction at the site.
But Hun Sen yesterday said the problem extended well beyond Naga, as he called on companies, ministries and local governments to ensure that building permits were being strictly adhered to.
“If the building is built on a public place, the authorities and involved ministries have to take responsibility. For the private company, it has to stick to the law and it must not construct the building beyond what the law permits by colluding with bad officials, or else they will be punished,” he wrote.
City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said the municipality only has power over sites smaller than 3,000 square metres. For bigger constructions, he said it was up to the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction to enforce the law.
He added that City Hall would strive to better regulate construction in the capital following the prime minister’s warning.
Sarun Rithea, spokesman for the Ministry of Land Management, and representatives of NagaCorp could not be reached yesterday.
Opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang welcomed Hun Sen’s warnings against government corruption, which he said had allowed Naga’s flawed expansion in the first place.
“I support the obvious measures being taken against those corrupt officials,” he said.
San Chey, coordinator of the rights group Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific, said inefficiencies and corruption “from the high to the low levels” of government have led to a number of problems with illegal construction work in Cambodia, including serious accidents.
“The illegal buildings can be substandard because of the ineffectiveness of the local officials, and people in Cambodia can end up being the victims.”