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Authorities Issue Eviction Order of Historic ‘White Building’


A general view of Phnom Penh's White Building and its residents on Friday, September 5, 2014. (Nov Povleakhena/VOA Khmer)

A general view of Phnom Penh's White Building and its residents on Friday, September 5, 2014. (Nov Povleakhena/VOA Khmer)

Phnom Penh authorities have issued a notice to evict residents of a run-down historical building in the middle of the city.

The so-called White Building was designed and built in the 1960s, when Cambodia enjoyed an architectural renaissance, but in the years since, it has become run-down. It is now in danger of collapse, Khatt Narith, chief Tonle Basac commune, said in a notice. He declined to comment further without permission, when contacted by VOA Khmer.

Residents, most of whom are extremely poor, say they don’t have a place to relocate to, even if they had the means. “Suppose we have to move out,” said resident Luy Samean. “Where should we live? This is all our concern.” The building may look run down, she said, but inside it is structurally solid.

Hem Sam Ath, 50, who has been living in the building since 1979, expressed similar concerns, saying there have been no solutions presented with the notice for eviction.

The White Building has in previous years been at the center of preservation efforts. It is considered a historic example of Cambodian architecture. Sahmakum Teang Tnaut, a local NGO, has been working to renovate the building, and thereby protect its residents from eviction, since 2013.

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