Threat to Phnom Penh heritage

PHNOM PENH, 21 September 2015: Cambodia’s government needs to introduce regulations to prevent the destruction of heritage buildings in Phnom Penh, a leading architect told local media last week.

Khmer Times quoted Ministry of Culture spokesman, Thai Norak Sathya, saying the ministry is working with the Ministry of Interior to come up with a plan to protect buildings. But as of now, it is up to property owners to maintain the heritage value and very few of them consider it worth the investment.

“We give out information to the owners of the properties to explain to them the value of their buildings, but it is up to their discretion,” he said.

inside no 4Currently, there are some regulations that limit construction near important sites, like Wat Phnom and the Royal Palace, and a recent guideline that limits the height of new buildings in the area, the report said.

Due to the building boom in Phnom Penh, architect, Pagna Serey, warned that more regulations were needed to ensure high-rises buildings would not damage the character of the city.

“To put those laws into action, we have to determine which buildings deserve protection.”

Phnom Penh is not as popular as Siem Reap, but there are efforts underway to improve its tourism appeal. However, many of the colonial style buildings have been torn down to make way for modern office buildings and residences.

Last year, Phnom Penh and surrounding areas attracted 2,151,838 visits increasing 9.1% from 1,972,879 visits in 2013, according to Ministry of Tourism statistic.