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Minister called over Buddhist Institute land

Workers from a neighbouring construction site tear down the entrance gate to the Buddhist Institute in Phnom Penh in June
Workers from a neighbouring construction site tear down the entrance gate to the Buddhist Institute in Phnom Penh in June. Heng Chivoan

Minister called over Buddhist Institute land

Minister of Cults and Religion Min Khin has been summonsed for questioning in the National Assembly over speculation that the government plans to sell the Buddhist Institute to the owner of NagaWorld casino, an opposition lawmaker said yesterday.

Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker Lim Bun Sidareth, secretary of the National Assembly’s religious affairs commission, said fellow opposition lawmaker and commission head Yem Ponharith had issued the request.

“We want clear information on whether [Khin] has sold the location,” Bun Sidareth said. “Have they sold it? Have they leased it? Because the casino and the government are saying different things. That’s why we need real answers from the minister so people can know what is really going on.”

As NagaCorp has carried out the expansion of the NagaWorld casino complex in Phnom Penh in recent months, speculation has mounted that the Buddhist Institute, situated next door, is under threat.

The rumours prompted Buddhist monks to take to the streets in protest last week.

Although the government has denied it will relinquish the land, Philip Lee, chief financial officer of NagaCorp, told investors and analysts in August that the company has further development plans that would force the institute to be relocated.

Khin, who has been called to appear with a number of colleagues, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Founded in 1930, the institute has been a centre for the preservation and development of Cambodian culture and was the nation’s first major publisher.

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