I read with great regret of the American Embassy's plan to
relocate to the site of the International Youth Club.
By doing this they
will take away from us one of the few recreational facilities in this city.
True, it is now in a slightly dilapidated condition compared with its former
elegance, when as Le Circle Sportif it was the focus of expatriate life, but it
would hardly take much to revamp the structure and make it a going concern once
The compound and its surroundings, which include Wat Phnom, are one
of the showpieces of Phnom Penh. This area deserves rehabilitation and
protection to develop the park-like atmosphere that could be developed there to
be enjoyed by all.
What can we expect when the US Embassy moves in? They
say that they are leaving their present site because of the need to boost their
security. Thus it doesn't take much imagination to envisage the fortress-like
structure that they will erect to defend their interests. High razor-wire-topped
walls, barrier gates and armed security guards toting metal detectors will
guarantee certain wreckage of any park-like atmosphere that could be developed
there to be enjoyed by all.
I can understand the Americans' need for
security. The French obviously felt the same when they built their imposing
stronghold. However, at least they had the good manners to place it down the far
end of Monivong Boulevard, where it is doing nobody any harm.
America as a country very concerned about the rights of the individual. It's a
pity that they couldn't follow the example of the French and show similar
consideration by leaving the International
- Youth Club to the public. James Baxter by email