Noël Salvarelli (in white suit) observes work in 1917 on the new road up Bokor Mountain, which was at the time called La Piste Lavit. To his left Le Révérand P. Bernard.
Revisiting the road up Bokor
With reference to your
interesting article "On the road to Bokor, a bump before the boom" (PPPost, Feb 8, 2008), the road to the
top was indeed originally built by French Authorities in 1917 who had
commissioned my grandfather, Mr Noel Salvarelli, who was a cartographer and a
road builder, to trace it and to build it. He walked into the virgin forest
with some Cambodian companions, looking at the ground in order to find a way to
put a road to the very top of Bokor Mountain. Once he got to the top, he came
back down the same way, then organized some teams to clear the way and level
the land through the forest, thus making way for and building the first 33km
road to the very top of Phnom Bokor. It is the same way that we use today. My
grandfather was the first man to have found this way.
I have an old photograph of my
grandfather standing on the first road being leveled somewhere in the forest,
along with a Catholic priest of the time. As for the top of Phnom Bokor, my
grandfather built the Catholic church up there and my father was baptized in
it. As for the meaning of the word Bokor, in Khmer it literally means "the hump
of the bull,” and from a distance, the top of the mountain does look like a
"bokor." And of course, the view from up there is out of this world
and you can have your head in the clouds! Cambodia is a nice country!
No sign of real estate for foreigners
I wish to correct the words
that were erroneously attributed to me in an article entitled "Lawmakers
consider letting foreigners buy real estate” published by the Phnom Penh Post in its January 11-24, 2008
edition and in which it is written that I would have said that the National
Assembly was envisioning to amend the Land Law in order to allow foreigners to
own land in Cambodia.
I deny to have said such thing.
I am writing and clarifying hereafter what I had said during the phone
interview held in Khmer with one of the Phnom
Penh Post journalists.
First, I made no reference
whatsoever to thoughts discussed in the National Assembly about this issue. I
only said that this issue had been the object of some reflections within the
Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction (LMUPC) in terms
that were by the way far different from those reported in the 11th paragraph of
the incriminated article.
Second, the Cambodian
Constitution and Land Law forbid foreigners to own land in Cambodia. These two
legal texts specifically refer to ‘land’ in the concerned provisions as opposed
to ‘immovable property’ that is the term commonly used in their other
provisions. Therefore, it can be deduced that the Constitution and the Land Law
do not forbid foreigners to own immovable property that is not land.
possibility, however, remains theoretical. Its implementation would require the
adoption of additional legal provisions specifying the concrete conditions of
such implementation. According to what I know, no such draft has ever been
presented to or by any State institution.
During the phone interview, I
only had specified that it could be envisioned that, in the future, foreigners
could be granted the right to become owners of apartments in conditions that
remained to be determined.
I regret that my words were
reported in a way that gives grounds to misinterpretation and ask you to
publish the present denial and rectification.
Secretary of State
Ministry of Land Management,
Urban Planning and Construction