Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Private prison breaks ground

Private prison breaks ground

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Prison Department officials and Interior Ministry Secretary of State Pao Horm Phan (in suit) participate in a groundbreaking ceremony to inaugurate a new private wing at Prey Sar prison yesterday in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

Private prison breaks ground

Ground was officially broken yesterday on a new facility at Prey Sar prison that will soon enable the upper crust of the Kingdom’s underworld to buy their way out of overcrowded jails and into the relative luxury of a privately run institution.

Announced last year, the new facility was billed at the time by Interior Minister Sar Kheng as a “hotel or detention centre”, and would provide better lodging to inmates who could afford to pay for the upgrade while at the same time generating revenue for the state.

Chinese firm Kunn Rekon Holdings Company is developing the $4 million project and will operate the new prison, said Pao Ham Phan, a secretary of state at the ministry who inaugurated the project yesterday.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Ministry Interior Secretary of State Pao Horm Phan speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony for a new private wing at Prey Sar prison yesterday in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

Prisons department spokesman Nuth Savna confirmed yesterday that the new facilities would be available to inmates who could pay for them, with the first phase of the project expected to be completed in mid-2018.

The 45-year build-operate-transfer agreement will see the state and Kunn Rekon sharing the revenues.

“The one who can afford to pay to stay there we will allow to stay there. There will be 400 people for the first phase,” he said. “The price is up to the company how much they want to charge.”

While he at first said the facilities would be no different from other prisons, Savna did acknowledge that the new prison would have bigger rooms and space for exercise and worship, but insisted that no activities that bend the law would be allowed.

“Everything is implemented within the government’s policy, and do not think that there will be massage services or other things,” he added.

Yao Chen Ming, deputy director of the Kunn Rekon, said the aim of the new block was to ease overcrowding at the existing prisons. On completion, the buildings will be able to house 1,200 inmates, including 180 inmates for drug rehabilitation.

He added that his firm was primarily into property development and this was their first project in Southeast Asia. Overcrowding in Cambodia’s prisons is indeed at epidemic levels. In February, a prisons official said Prey Sar alone was holding 5,000 inmates, despite being designed for 1,200.

A 2015 report by rights group Licadho found that prison life across 18 centres in Cambodia was dictated by cash flow, with wealthy inmates routinely paying for better cells, alcohol and prostitutes, as well as purported “VIP cells” for well-connected prisoners.

Boeung Kak activist Chan Puthisak, who was jailed during the violent crackdown of protests at Veng Sreng Boulevard, said Prey Sar already afforded the rich and business tycoons special treatment, with poorer inmates having to fend for basics like food.

“This is like immunity because this encourages the offenders to continue to commit crimes, because when they commit crimes there is no punishment for them because they live happily and spend money freely in prison,” he said.

Duch Piseth, advocacy officer at the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said designating spaces within prisons as a “good space or bad space” inherently infringed on the rights and freedoms of all inmates, who should theoretically be treated equally.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro