By Dene-Hern Chen – June 11, 2013
Vann Molyvann, the country’s pre-eminent architect who designed some of Phnom Penh’s most historic buildings in the post-independence period, has thrown his weight behind the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) for the July 28 national election.
Mr. Molyvann, 86, a protege of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former Minister of Culture, said the newly established opposition party was the only hope for the future of Phnom Penh’s urban development.
“My conviction is that we cannot continue to develop Phnom Penh in the way that it has been done during the last two decades,” Mr. Molyvann said in an interview on Monday, adding that development in the city under the ruling CPP has been carried out without regulations, or proper planning and forethought.
“[E]verybody is taking land and selling it to foreigners and they are now creating huge skyscrapers without a plan,” he said, adding that projects beneficial to the city, such as the city’s new drainage system, had not actually been spearheaded by the Cambodian government, but by Japanese aid agency JICA.
“I can say that Phnom Penh has been saved by the Japanese cooperation JICA, and Angkor Wat in Siem Reap has been saved by Unesco with France and Japan,” he said.
Spokesman for the Council of Ministers Phay Siphan said he did not know why Mr. Molyvann had endorsed the opposition as he had previously worked with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government.
Yim Sovann, spokesman for CNRP, said he welcomed Mr. Molyvann’s support and that it proved that a wide range of people from all walks of life are turning to the opposition. “[Mr. Molyvann’s endorsement] will boost the image of the CNRP,” Mr. Sovann said.