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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - R’kiri row no drag on oknha title

R’kiri row no drag on oknha title

The Royal Palace has granted the prestigious title of oknha to politically connected businesswoman Keat Kolney, who has been locking horns for a decade with ethnic Jarai minorities in Ratanakkiri province over hundreds of disputed hectares.

Kolney – who is married to Chhan Saphann, an official at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, and is the sister of Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon – was appointed on June 11, according to the royal decree. The title was “requested by Prime Minister Hun Sen”.

Translated most accurately as “tycoon”, oknha is an honorific that has traditionally been bestowed on powerful officials who contribute to society, though reasons for why a given recipient deserves the title are rarely, if ever, spelled out.

Villagers in O’Yadav district’s Kong Yu village accuse Kolney of soliciting their thumbprints under false pretenses for the sale of 450 hectares in 2004. The complaint has languished in court, and some fear the new title can only hurt their case.

“It is suitable for her, because she has money to get the title,” said villager Sven Thvel, 29. “The court keeps quiet because they fear her power.”



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Max_Hydr0's picture

I have always had a hugely negative opinion about wealthy individuals who are able to garner an honorary title in exchange for "contributing" money to society. These individuals are actually narcissistic fame hunters and contribute little to the lower-class society they loath. These well-connected elites give away money because they expect a big favor in return from their government. Keat Kolney is an opportunist and does not care about the villagers of Kong Yu. The Ministry of Land Management should not be a platform for rewarding relatives of its officials.

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