In Suo Phirin’s mandate as Siem Reap’s governor before his demotion in 2013, he had accomplished a feat in developing the province’s administration building on a 10-hectare plot of land in the middle of a jungle.
The jungle is located in Ampil district, Prasat Bakong, Siem Reap province, some 24 kilometres from the city centre of Siem Reap.
Phirin’s provincial department building was inaugurated in March 2010, but it almost immediately proved unpopular with the province’s officials who complained about the hassle of making the trip from their homes into the jungle. It was inaccessible, and led to massive protests by the officials.
Under pressure from his workers and the locals alike, Phirin stepped down, with his role being taken over by Khim Bun Song, who maintains the position of governor to date. In September 2013 of Bun Song’s mandate, the government made the wise decision to change the location of the administration building and move it out of the jungle once and for all.
“Previously the government decided to build a city administration about 24 km from the center of Siem Reap province,” Kim Chhayheang, Siem Reap’s deputy provincial governor, recalled.
He said, “The second location was in the far eastern part of the province. Later on, the provincial officers also complained that it was too far and expensive to keep topping up gasoline to travel.”
With more complaints abound, Prime Minister Hun Sen intercepted and called for the exchange of locations with the Apsara Authority’s administrative building located in a more central area of Siem Reap.
One provincial officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, recalled: “The jungle was an eerie place to go into; there were no residents living nearby and for two hours I would not see a single soul. I felt scared because it was extremely quiet along the way to reach the office.”
“Till now, I and my colleagues do not understand what Phirin wanted to achieve by building the administration building there,” he said.