Siem Reap province
THE divisive new Siem Reap Night Market has been ordered to close by provincial officials following a public outcry, town officials said.
The night market – which opened about two weeks ago – caused an uproar among nearby businesses and others who claimed it blocked a major thoroughfare next to Pub Street and siphoned business from existing markets.
Tep Bunchhay, Siem Reap town governor, said Siem Reap provincial officials have ordered the Siem Reap Night Market to shut because it doesn’t have official permission to operate.
“Since there is protesting, we have to close the market because they don’t have formal permission,” he said. “I am not sure whether this market can be reopened and when.”
Siem Reap province Deputy Governor Bun Tharith put things more bluntly. “I think it will not exist again because there were so many reactions,” Bun Tharith said.
He said that provincial Governor Sou Phirin never granted permission for the market to operate, and that Tep Bunchhay had allowed it to open only temporarily.
More than 500 thumbprints in opposition to the Siem Reap Night Market were submitted to provincial authorities last week by Seng Phalkun, owner of the Noon Night Market.
Market owners disagree
Huy Leng, owner of Siem Reap Night Market, said he had already closed the market temporarily to wait for a solution from the authorities. He proposed a “win-win” solution in which his stalls would be open only three nights a week.
Huy Leng said that some vendors from other markets have come to rent his stalls because they’re cheaper.
“This conflict is between [market] owners. It is not between vendors and vendors,” he said. He also pledged to donate US$10,000 yearly to the Cambodian Red Cross and offer jobs to people with disabilities.
“I acknowledge that my market will absorb almost all the customers if I run it the whole week, but we should work together and share the benefits,” he said.
Seng Phalkun rejected this solution, though, saying that other businesses will then ask to operate other days of the week. “If they are a real competitor, they can find a proper site to rent stalls,” he said. “The public street is not for business.”