Built only two years ago, the police station has already been demolished. New owners
still a mystery.
Locals fear other government buildings are on the block.
Siem Reap police have swapped their inner-city station worth an estimated $7 million
with a plot 5 kms away and worth a fraction of the original location.
Ros Sarath, Siem Reap deputy police chief, said ownership of the station was transferred
to an unknown company three weeks ago and the previous building has been demolished.
The new location will be near Siem Reap Airport, Sarath said, adding that he knew
few details about the swap because he had just received orders from high-ranking
officials in the Ministry of Interior.
The original station was located near the Royal palace and Royal Independence Gardens
on 7,100 square meters of land worth an estimated $7.1 million, said Moeung Sonn,
deputy president of the Siem Reap Chamber of Commerce.
The new plot is 21,000 square meters, but because of its location far from town and
close to the airport, it is valued at only $420,000, Sonn said.
He criticized the swap, saying the old police station had only been built two years
ago and had cost a lot of money. Sonn said moving police out of the town's center
would have an impact on security of residents and tourists.
A commission was set up to manage the new buildings and included representatives
of the Ministry of Interior, Siem Reap police, Ministry of Economy and Finance, local
officials from the department of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction
(DLMUPC), and other provincial officials.
An official who works for DLMUPC said the company planned to build apartments on
the land of the police station.
"I do not know how many floors the apartment would be because I have not seen
the blueprints yet," he said on condition of anonymity.
Ou Em, chief of criminal police unit in Siem Reap, said he had heard the company
who obtained the prime real estate had sold the land to other companies.
Detailed information on the deal was hard to come by. The Siem Reap provincial governor
and the chief of police declined to comment.
A police source identified the head of the commission on the Siem Reap land swap
as an official in the department of finance at the Ministry of Interior. When contacted
by the Post, the land-swap captain said he didn't dare speak out, fearing punishment
from his superiors and refused to give his name.
Locals say other buildings may be under consideration for future swaps.
"I hear court officials complaining to me that they feel nervous because they
heard the court's headquarters [in front of the police station] will also be sold,"
Ang Mealatey, a judge at the Siem Reap municipal court, said he did not know for
sure whether the court had been sold because he had not seen any documents relating
to the selling.