The National Election Committee (NEC) January 2 held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new office building, constructed on land acquired by the government from Kong Korm, a former opposition leader.

The site is located on Sothearos Street in Tonle Bassac commune in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district.

NEC chairman Prach Chan presided over the ceremony. 

According to NEC, the new building will be constructed at a cost of more than $21 million, set to be completed in October 2025.

NEC spokesperson Som Sorida emphasised the importance of the new office in ensuring NEC’s efficient functioning, as mandated by the Constitution and the law on the organisation and functioning of the body.

Sorida added that the new building would enhance staff performance, accommodating the three general departments – Administration and Finance; Legal and Technical Services; Information Training and Public Relations – which comprise eight subordinate departments.

“The new office building will also ensure that the nine NEC members have a suitable place for their work. The construction of the new building is especially important for this national institution,” he said.

He noted that the land for the new office was previously owned by Korm and later confiscated by the government in a court case over legal ownership before being allocated to the committee. 

Post-construction, all officials will relocate from the current NEC headquarters adjacent to NagaWorld Integrated Resort, and the building will be returned to NagaWorld.

Sam Kuntheamy, executive director of the NGO Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC), said that it was long overdue for the NEC, an independent body, to have its own building as the current location is adjacent to the casino.

“A proper location is one of the factors that could enable NEC officials to work more efficiently. The new spacious building would improve the body’s workflow,” he said.

Korm and his wife returned the 5,290sqm of land to the state following an investigation into illegal possession of title deeds by the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU), prompted by a request from the-Prime Minister Hun Sen. 

Korm expressed his intention to return the property to expedite the resolution of the case and avoid further investigation by the ACU in a January 2023 letter. 

“As I am unfamiliar with the procedure for applying for possession of a house and land, and in order to prevent the ACU from wasting time on investigating the case, my wife and I have decided to voluntarily return the house and land to the government,” he stated in the letter.