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Officials set to preserve old Preah Sihanouk royal residence

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Officials from the Department of Fine Arts in Preah Sihanouk province inspect the former Royal Palace in Kampong Seila District on March 16. SUPPLIED

Officials set to preserve old Preah Sihanouk royal residence

The Preah Sihanouk provincial Department of Culture and Fine Arts and the Kampong Seila district authorities have plans for preserving the old royal residence in Kampong Seila district’s Chamkar Luong commune.

Department director But Bopha said that on March 16 experts were working with the district administration and commune officials to examine the former royal residence located along National Road 4 in Boeung Trach village.

He said that according to those inspecting the old royal residence where the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk used to stay when visiting the southern provinces during the 1950’s, there now remains only a few bricks from the foundation and about 10 steps from a staircase.

He said the provincial administration and the land management department as well as the district administration have been working with the Ministry of the Royal Palace since 2013 and the land department issued a title to the Ministry of the Royal Palace to manage the site.

Bopha said his department’s visit to the site was to find out if there was some additional work that could be done to preserve it but according to the inspectors there was very little left there – not even any pillars or ruins which could be an attraction for the public.

“On behalf of the department, we joined in the conservation attempts because the location is really an old royal palace,” he said.

Bopha said the late King Father at that time wanted to build a palace for his own relaxation and for when he was carrying out some royal duties in the provinces.

“In 1980 the old royal house was still there, but in 1985 people didn’t understand the value of maintaining it and so they sold the iron for scrap and destroyed the building. Everything was broken down,” he said.

District governor Sao Borey Vattanak said on March 17 that the authorities were now responsible for maintaining the site and that there was no recent encroachment there.

However, he said, the district authorities cannot develop, modify or do anything further with the location because only the royal ministry has rights over building there.

“As for development, we can only manage the property unless the Royal Palace takes charge, so my side just helps with maintaining it,” he said.

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