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Municipality says Kem Ley statue is ‘a total no’

Mourners hold Kem Ley posters at the capital’s Wat Chas pagoda earlier this year during the analyst’s funeral.
Mourners hold Kem Ley posters at the capital’s Wat Chas pagoda earlier this year during the analyst’s funeral. Heng Chivoan

Municipality says Kem Ley statue is ‘a total no’

City Hall will not allow a statue of slain political analyst Kem Ley to be built anywhere in Phnom Penh, a spokesman said yesterday, after a request for such a statue at Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park was rejected by authorities.

Phnom Penh municipality spokesman Mean Chanyada said Freedom Park was built for people to express their opinions, and the municipality would not allow statues for individuals, save for the monuments that already exist to late King Father Norodom Sihanouk, former Buddhist patriarch Choun Nath and Khmer poet Krom Ngoy.

“There will be no alternative solution for a location for Kem Ley’s statue – it’s a total ‘no’, not any place in Phnom Penh,” Chanyada said. “We don’t considerer whether it is a loss or a gain; we just do it based on the principle.”

In a letter responding to the request by Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker for Takeo, Ou Chanrath, released yesterday, Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong rejected the proposal. He said authorities would build memorials in tribute to people who had sacrificed for the country, but not individual statues.

Reached yesterday, Chanrath said he was disappointed with the decision, which he said was political. “We want to inspire people,” he said of the aim of the proposed statue of the government critic, who was gunned down on July 10 in a killing many believe was politically motivated.

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