In a city known for its eclectic statues found at prominent roundabouts, the capital's
latest addition is nothing less than monumental.
As a hoped-for testimony to the advent of a new era of peace and non-violence, Minister
of Interior Sar Kheng and Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara inaugurated the Kahm-pleung
Khley Kouch Kanon (Tied-Up Pistol Cannon) on Dec 31 at the rotary near the Japanese
The three ton, larger-than-life, gold-handled pistol can definitely be called snub-nosed
as its barrel has been tied in a knot, symbolising the government's efforts to remove
illegal firearms from society at large.
Materials for the new statue are said to have been taken from weapons destroyed at
a public ceremony held May 5, 1999 at Olympic Stadium when Prime Minister Hun Sen
drove a steam roller over rifles confiscated during the crackdown on unlicensed guns.
At the inaugural ceremony Sar Kheng, noting the advent of a new millenium, said that
the country now had "real peace" but cautioned that this didn't mean there
was "security for the entire country".
"The activities of robbers, intimidation and kidnapping in the city or in the
provinces are because gangsters use illegal weapons to carry out their activities,"
Kheng said, adding that the events of the past must be forgotten and success must
be achieved for the New Year.
Several more critical observers did not miss the possible symbolism of the statue's
location - sitting just in front of Funcinpec headquarters - and wondered quietly
if a not-so-subtle message wasn't being conveyed for all to see.