The Documentation Centre of Cambodia has secured approval to move forward on plans to build a new education and research institute in Phnom Penh.
In a letter dated December 23 and obtained by The Post yesterday, Minister of Interior Sar Kheng authorised the construction of the new DC-Cam centre, to be called The Sleuk Rith Institute.
The institute will be located on a 4,800-square metre plot of land on the Boeung Trabek High School campus, close to the Royal University of Law and Economics. The land was donated to DC-Cam by the Ministry of Education in 2008.
During the Khmer Rouge regime, Boeung Trabek High School functioned as a security prison and “reeducation” centre.
DC-Cam’s director Youk Chhang said he began envisioning the institute in 1999, and said it would help DC-Cam continue its work beyond the end of the Khmer Rouge tribunal, to which it has provided significant support.
“It’s now time to look beyond and plan beyond the tribunal,” he said.
According to a new DC-Cam brochure, sleuk rith are dried leaves that Cambodian religious leaders and scholars have used for centuries “to document history, disseminate knowledge and even preserve culture during periods of harsh rule”.
“The Sleuk Rith Institute will represent a permanent stand against genocide,” the brochure reads.
The new institute will house a museum, a research and media centre incorporating digitised library of DC-Cam’s archives, and a school hosting academic programs on human rights, genocide and conflict. The latter will be available for Cambodian and international undergraduate and graduate students.
DC-Cam also plans to print a newspaper with a special focus on genocide and conflict, for which it has secured permission from the Ministry of Information.
Youk Chhang said he is seeking balance between beauty and function in the design of the institute, which he hopes will be inspired by ancient art but modern enough to appeal to younger generations.
Three firms, from Cambodia, the United States and Hong Kong, will submit design proposals to DC-Cam by March. After selecting one in April, construction will begin. The cost of the project will not exceed US$2 million, Youk Chhang said.