The King and Queen Mother have awarded a royal residence in Koh Kong province to the director of the Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals in a bid to relieve the financial burden on the facilities, which offer free treatment to all patients.
In a letter signed on Saturday, King Norodom Sihamoni and Queen Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk offer a “residence, which is the personal property of King Father Norodom Sihanouk” to Swiss national Beat Richner, who founded the hospitals in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.
“I believe that this gift will facilitate and relieve the financial problems of Kantha Bopha Hospital and it will help the poor children of Cambodia,” the letter says.
Richner and palace officials could not be reached for comment yesterday to clarify whether the royal residence will be sold.
Denis Laurent, deputy director of Kantha Bopha Hospital, confirmed that the residence was “a gift to our hospital”, but declined to comment further.
Provincial Governor Bun Leut said the residence in Khemarak Phumin town occupies more than a hectare of land and is currently empty. But Dat Koyno, the province’s deputy police chief, said there are “three or four families” living there.
One of those living in the royal residence, high school teacher Nov Sinah, said 10 civil servants’ families stay there.
“Some people have lived here for 10 years since we have no houses and we got permission from the local authorities.”
Sinah added that he was not opposed to the property being awarded to Richner, but was concerned about his family’s fate.
“We know we will be asked to move out and we won’t have a place to stay. Please help us.”