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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Renakse stripped, control handed to PP municipality

Renakse stripped, control handed to PP municipality

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090107_04.jpg

Furniture and fittings were ripped out of the hotly contested hotel on Tuesday by local authorities citing a court order giving control to the Municipality

Photo by: TRACEY SHELTON

Phnom Penh municipal authorities drive furniture, fittings and guests’ luggage out of the Hotel Renakse in central Phnom Penh on Tuesday. An official order has banned staff, customers and the manager from the premises.

FURNITURE and fittings were carted out of the hotly-contested Hotel Renakse on Tuesday as police acted on a Municipal Court order to close the establishment.  

"I have come to close this hotel according to a Municipal Court decision," Sok Sambath, governor of Daun Penh district told the Post outside the hotel on Tuesday.  

According to a court ruling released by Ke Sakhorn, deputy director of the Municipal Court, all the furniture and fittings belonging to the erstwhile manager Kem Chantha must be moved out of the hotel. Guests, staff and   Kem Chantha herself are banned from the premises.

Temporary control of the property has been handed to municipal authorities, the court order says.

According to the court order, the hotel has been closed in accordance with a municipal Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction Department directive that stipulates that buildings over 100 years old and in poor condition - both of which, it claims, the Renakse is - must be closed for safety reasons.

Citing the Municipal Court decision, local authorities on Tuesday asked for the keys to the building from Ranakse staff to lock the rooms and remove all furnishings in Phnom Penh District security trucks, staff at the hotel said.

But manager Kem Chantha claims the authorities have ignored three hand-written letters she has from Cambodian People's Party leaders Chea Sim, Heng Samrin and Hun Sen which, she claims, show the conflicting claims are not as black-and-white as municipal authorities claim.

"They released the court decision protection warranty letter at 5pm yesterday [Monday], and in the morning they enforced it. This is an unjust court order. I am the manager of the hotel and I am responsible for it, not the Phnom Penh Municipality," she added.

Manager who will not leave

Kem Chantha has operated the hotel for more than two decades, and her lease is valid until April 2050, she says.

But a notice posted late September on the hotel's front gate said the property, owned by the Cambodian People's Party, had been sold to Alexan Inc and will be converted into housing for government officials.

Kem Chantha said the government offered US$200,000 in return for breaking her lease.

"I lost everything now, I lost my business - my clients, my staff - it has a strong impact on my guests because they left their luggage in the room and left the country on Christmas Day, but [authorities] do not allow the guests to enter to retrieve their belongings," she added.

Yim Socheat, police chief of Daun Penh district, declined to comment. 

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