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Working group created for Chea Vichea statue

A statue of assassinated former Free Trade Union president Chea Vichea will be meaningful to Cambodians and in keeping with the beauty of Phnom Penh, municipal governor Kep Chuktema said yesterday, but where the money for the memorial will come from remains an open question.

Kep Chuktema told the Post that Phnom Penh municipal officials and FTU officials had created a working group that would meet to discuss the construction of the statue, which Prime Minister Hun Sen agreed to in January.

“You think it is easy? If you just take one stone, it is not a problem – you can put that down tomorrow,” Kep Chuktema said.

“But Phnom Penh cannot do like this. Our city is very tidy and beautiful, so if we build a statue, we must make sure it is meaningful and can be enjoyed by all.”

Kep Chuktema declined to comment on when the statue would be built, how much it would cost or where that money would come from, because these are “top-level decisions”.

“It must be built because this has been approved by Samdech Prime Minister [Hun Sen],” he said.

FTU president Chea Mony, Chea Vichea’s brother, said the union wanted the statue to be built soon to honour their former leader. His supporters want the statue to be 1.68 metres tall – Chea Vichea’s height – and mounted on stone, he said.

“City hall wants the statue to look nice. My union wants it built soon, but I don’t know when this will be,” Chea Mony said, adding he would have to wait for discussions with officials to know more.

The union president wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen on December 12 asking him to designate a spot in the garden near where Chea Vichea was shot dead outside Wat Langka in January 2004.

Hun Sen approved the request.

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