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

  • Serious flooding across country

    The Kampong Speu provincial Committee for Disaster Management on Wednesday issued an alert after non-stop heavy rain caused widespread flooding. In Koh Kong province, authorities are working with the disaster committee and the Cambodian Red Cross to assist those affected after more than 350 homes were

  • CNRP points to King in call for vote boycott

    Leaders of the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have taken a new tack in their call for a boycott of the national elections later this month. They are now claiming that the people should follow the King, who is expected to abide by tradition

  • Actress’s NGO takes heat for promoting the ruling party

    An actress’s NGO which participated in an election campaign event contrary to the Law on Association and Non-Governmental Organisations (Lango) has been slammed. Chorn Chanleakena, a celebrity and the president of the Association of Artists Volunteering to Help Society, allegedly led its members in

  • Troop moves ‘won’t worry people’

    Senior officials at the Ministry of Defence and National Police said on Tuesday that riot training provided to the country’s police forces were aimed at preventing unexpected demonstrations and strikes before and after the July 29 national elections. The troop mobilisation, they said, would not