Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Buddhist Institute rewind

Buddhist Institute rewind

Heavy machinery operates on a construction site next to the Buddhist Institute in Phnom Penh in June
Heavy machinery operates on a construction site next to the Buddhist Institute in Phnom Penh in June. Charlotte Pert

Buddhist Institute rewind

Seeking to allay fears that the government is allowing casino operator NagaCorp to overrun the Buddhist Institute, Minister of Cults and Religion Min Khin yesterday claimed that any structures that have been built by the casino operator on institute land would now be removed.

After nearly three hours of questioning by the National Assembly’s Commission on Religion, Khin claimed that construction had been put to a halt. “For the Buddhist Institute, we are not renting [the land], or selling it, or [allowing] any development,” he told reporters after the closed-door questioning. “And as for removing [construction], we are organising the procedure to dismantle soon."

“Now I would like to tell all of you that we are stopping [this construction] right away,” Khin also said.

The construction site attracted protesters after parts of the institute’s walls were demolished earlier this year to make way for the nearby casino. In May, the government said that it had only allowed NagaCorp to build an electrical substation on the institute’s land to power a new hotel across the road.

But last month, the Post revealed that the company had told investors of plans to build another hotel directly on the institute’s site.

According to Yem Ponharith, an opposition lawmaker and head of the commission on religion, the substation would now also be relocated.

He said that the institute would hopefully be refurbished instead, to restore its past glory.

“We will go and look with our own eyes and request [the government] to help the Ministry of Cults and Religion to be given enough budget … to help the institute grow,” Ponharith said.

According to a recording of yesterday’s questioning, Khin told lawmakers that NagaCorp had not paid any money to use the institute’s land while constructing developments in the immediate vicinity.

“There is no rent. [Naga] has borrowed [our land]. There is [just] a borrowing agreement for them to keep construction materials, motorbikes and cars [on institute land],” he said.

This response earned a rebuke from Ponharith, who questioned why a highly profitable casino company was not paying for use of the land.

NagaWorld declined to comment before press time.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom may hire Turkish power ship

    Cambodia is considering negotiating with Turkey to hire a 200MW-capacity power ship to meet electricity demands as the country faces an ongoing electrical shortage, according to the prime minister. Speaking to garment workers in Pursat province on Wednesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Electricite du

  • Woman who scaled Cambodia’s three highest peaks eyes Everest

    One of the very few Cambodian women to have successfully reached the Kingdom’s three highest peaks is now eyeing Malaysia’s tallest mountain, Mount Kinabalu, and potentially even the world’s tallest straddling Nepal and China, Mount Everest. While in many Western countries it

  • Cheap, clean and efficient: The firm leading Cambodia’s solar revolution

    Sitting in her bright and airy 17th floor office, Rithya Menon, Okra Smart Solar’s lead firmware engineer, checks the frequently updating data telling her everything about how well their community services are operating. “I saw in the data that there was a problem with

  • PM Hun Sen: Cambodia will not die without EBA scheme

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday reiterated that he would not be overly concerned if Cambodia had its access to the EU’s “Everything But Arms” (EBA) scheme withdrawn because the Kingdom would not die without it. Hun Sen was speaking to factory workers in