Friday, May 28, 2010

The former French Governor's Palace.

This huge building and complex on Sisowath Quay is not easily spotted because of the three meter high walls topped with fencing that now surround it. In the earlier picture, titled Hotel du Commisseriat de la Republique Francaise it had little but a few chained bollards and a hedge to protect it, I don’t know when the picture was taken, I’d guess in the late 1950s, but it may be more recent. Apparently it was Pol Pot’s main residence in Phnom Penh during his reign, and in the late days of the Democratic Kampuchea regime it was used as an attractive location for visiting foreign journalists and a film crew from Yugoslavia who all interviewed Pol Pot there. This was remarkable in that these were probably the only interviews with westerners that he did during his whole time in power. He didn’t do any before that, and in the following couple of decades prior to his death he did just a few, mainly in his last few years.
In the early 1990s the building served as the headquarters for UNTAC (United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia). Its Civil Administration, Civil Police and Military units were all run from here.
The exterior of the main building seems to have changed little in the intervening years. It almost appears as if a French-era crest still remains over the main doors, but it’s probably a newer one. It is now the Council for the Development of Cambodia headquarters. It’s difficult to get a good view of the place, but you can easily spot a few annexes and outbuildings in the compound that look like newish structures. Although the CDC is a powerful body, their headquarters seem in many ways a quiet and serene place considering the location near the center of the city.

1 comment:

Peter Fröberg Idling said...

It was built in the 1930s, replacing a more modest colonial building. (It has a vague resemblance with the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, constructed at about the same time.)