7 February 2015

Cambodia's Intersputnik Membership Marked on Stamps

On 2nd December 1987 Cambodia issued a set of 3 stamps (Sc830-832 / Mi908-910) featuring antennas.  Not much is said about these stamps in major world stamp catalogues, they are only briefly described as to promote "telecommunications".  The only interesting thing about the set is it features the very first tab in Cambodian philatelic history.

The philatelic advertisement used by the Cambodian authority for the set which I am very sure none of the catalogue editors have seen is shown below.

The stamps actually celebrates "Édification Nationale", which means national construction.  The antennas and buildings featured were those of the Intersputnik space communications ground station compound in Phnom Penh.

Intersputnik is an international satellite communications services organization established in 1971 by the Soviet Union.  The now commercially aligned organization was initially to facilitate the common use of communications satellites by the Eastern Bloc.

Logo of Intersputnik.

In January of 1987, the Soviet-funded Intersputnik station located on the now Monivong Boulevard of Phnom Penh started to operate. It provided telecommunication links between the city and Moscow, Paris, Hanoi and Vientiane.  This earth satellite station restored the telephone and telex links of Phnom Penh to the international world for the first time since 1975.

The postal cover postmarked 2nd December 1993 shown above is franked with the 8r stamp (Sc832 / Mi910) from the set to pay discounted postage to France.

Later the orange red roof land station is featured on the 1989 "National Festival" 3v issue as well.  The 3r stamp (Sc918 / Mi996) shows the station and the antenna behind it.  This second time being on stamps confirmed the importance of Intersputnik to the Cambodian people, the station did not only link the country to the world, it was also for domestic radio and TV broadcasting which had proved to be an efficient means for the government to promote public policies.

The station compound is now the headquarters of Telecom Cambodia and the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.   A view of what was formerly Lake Boeung Kak is shown below. The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications is seen at the lower part of the photograph, the cross style station and the antennas are still in use

(courtesy: Nicolas AxelrodRuom)

The site was actually the grounds of the now gone Notre Dame Cathedral of Phnom Penh.  During the Pol Pot bitter years, the Catholic cathedral which seen by the Khmer Rouge as a stigma of French and Vietnamese colonization, capitalism and "opium of the people" was completely torn down by hand.  Here is an old postcard depicting the cathedral façade as seen from Wat Phnom, how graceful the city of Phnom Penh used to be.