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New rules set for script on construction signs

A large banner in English promotes new construction in Phnom Penh. The Ministry of Land Management has ordered that Khmer script be featured more prominently on common signage.
A large banner in English promotes new construction in Phnom Penh. The Ministry of Land Management has ordered that Khmer script be featured more prominently on common signage. Daphne Chen

New rules set for script on construction signs

All banners and signs at construction sites must be written primarily in Khmer, with English or Chinese script placed below the Khmer lettering and at half the size, the Ministry of Land Management announced Friday.

Ministry spokesman Seng Lot said yesterday the change is intended to “promote national identity”.

The letter, released by both the Ministry of Land Management and the National Committee for Cambodian Coastal Management, says Khmer script must be twice as large and written above foreign lettering on signage at buildings under construction.

The Khmer script must also be written according to the Chuon Nat dictionary, the eponymous Khmer language dictionary by Cambodia’s Supreme Patriarch first published in 1938.

Half-built skyscrapers flying banners in Chinese, English and other languages are common sights around Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville.

Cambodian Valuers and Estate Agents Association President Kim Heang said he supported the change, noting Cambodia no longer struggles to attract foreign investment as it has in the past.

“It’s the right time to promote our national culture,” Heang said. “Everywhere, you can see very big banners in Chinese or English – but no Khmer. We need to identify and show that this is Cambodia.”

CBRE Cambodia Director Ann Thida said she does not think the change will negatively impact developers beyond imposing small costs on developers to redo existing signs.

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