The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 680
As the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia says, the “Cambodian people are the masters of their own country.” And in its Article 51, the Constitution, written in 1993 by the elected representatives forming the first National Assembly, who then established the Kingdom of Cambodia, were setting high goals for the future: “to restore Cambodia into an ‘Island of Peace’ based on a multi-party liberal democratic regime guaranteeing human rights and the respect of law, and responsible for the destiny of the nation.”
Recently, there were reports about some other high flying plans for Cambodia.
Islands are different from their environment – they can have a kind of life of their own.
Now there are big plans to invest millions of dollars – others say billions – to develop an island half an hour by boat off the coast of Sihanoukville – Koh Pich – into an ecologically sustainable resort area like the world famous tourism destinations of Phuket in Thailand or Bali in Indonesia. There had been no announcement about A bidding process which led to this contract for the 78 sqkm island – but this is similar to many other of the large, long range economic concessions. The Mirror had only briefly reported under the date of 12.8.2010:
- The Royal Government Gave Koh Pich Land Titles [to the Oversea Cambodian Investment Corporation of the director general of the Canadia Bank, Mr. Pung Kheav Se; the Koh Pich island covers a total area of 100 hectares and was contracted for 99 years for development]
The plans foresee really an island – something different from its environment of the country of Cambodia: a luxury resort, with hotels and a golf course an a yacht harbor – plus its own international airport. While international tourism so far has been mainly focused on Angkor Wat, this plan aims to add some new feature, comparable to other international island and beach tourism destinations in Asia.
But now one more grand plan was released – aiming still higher: To build the highest building in Asia, the second highest in the world. According to local newspapers, the Prime Minister said:
“Cambodia will build the tallest private building in Asia… I plan this building with the private sector, 555 meters… I think we can do it.”
Mr. Touch Samnang, responsible for planning in the Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation, promoting this plan, is quoted to have said, “We have enough capital to build. We are not looking for investment partners.’ But for the technical construction we will need help from abroad.” The building would have commercial space for shopping and exhibition centers, but also residential sections. “It will reflect Phnom Penh. It is possible. It depends on the money, right? If you have the money, you can build anything.”
The press reports I have seen so far did not say anything about the need for such a building, and about its economic viability – for example calculating the prices for the rent of offices and housing in this 555 meter tall tower, totally depending or reliable electricity supply, etc. etc. But Mr. Samnang considers that this building “will be a triumph for Cambodia.”
“If you have the money, you can build anything.” For example also housing which the large number of people in Phnom Penh, who live in substandard crowded environments. If there exists a master plan how to solve the public housing needs in Phnom Penh during the coming years, we would appreciate to be informed where we can see it. The Mirror could be happy to help to share it widely, and invite to discuss it. After all, the Cambodian people are the masters of their own country.