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Funcinpec HQ sale ‘a sign of party’s demise’, says analyst

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Funcinpec party president Prince Norodom Ranariddh. Three provincial party headquarters are up for sale. Heng Chivoan

Funcinpec HQ sale ‘a sign of party’s demise’, says analyst

The headquarters of the royalist Funcinpec party in Preah Sihanouk province has been put up for sale, just two months after two others in Mondulkiri and Kampong Chhnang provinces came onto the market with a price tag of nearly $1 million.

The proposed sale comes as party president Prince Norodom Ranariddh remains hospitalised in Phnom Penh following a tragic traffic accident in June last year that took the life of his wife.

It has also led to some political analysts predicting the party’s demise and an eventual loss of the legacies of its founder, the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk, decades after it won Cambodia’s first UN-administered general election in 1993.

A high-ranking Funcinpec official told The Post on condition of anonymity on Monday that senior party official Heng Hak Lim and lawyer Pheng Heng were preparing paperwork for the sale.

“Princess Marie​ and Prince Norodom Chakravuth have ordered Heng Hak Lim and Pheng Heng to sell the three headquarters in Preah Sihanouk, Mondulkiri and Kampong Chhnang provinces because they want to dissolve the party,” he said.

He was referring to Prince Ranariddh’s estranged wife and his son, who is acting party president.

“They have used threats while coercing party officials to sell the headquarters, but I don’t think they will use the proceeds for Prince Norodom Ranarridh’s treatment,” he said.

With the backing of Prince Chakravuth and Princess​ Marie​, he said, Hak Lim was seeking land titles for each headquarters from officials who possess them.

He said Hak Lim had been persuading one of the officials holding the land title, Chhim Chhorn, to sell the headquarters in Kampong Chhnang, but Chhorn had not agreed.

In Mondulkiri, the official holding the land title had been warned by party loyalists against selling the headquarters.

Meanwhile, he said, Hak Lim is continuing to seek out the identity of the party’s land title holders in other provinces. He alleged Prince Chakravuth and Princess Marie​ intended to sell all Funcinpec headquarters but would start with the ones located in prime areas.

Neither Prince Chakravuth, Princess Marie​ nor Funcinpec spokesman Nop Sothearith, could be reached for comment on Monday.

Prince Ranarridh’s cabinet chief Say Hak declined to comment, saying he was busy.

The Post could not reach Hak Lim, who is currently an adviser to the government and Princess Marie​’s assistant, for comment on Sunday.

Heng, who had previously represented Prince Ranarridh in his legal cases, claimed he was unaware of the issue.

“I don’t know about the sale of the headquarters,” he said.

Kin Phea, the director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, said if the alleged sale of the headquarters went through, it would amount to a loss of Funcinpec’s heritage which was inherited from the late King Father.

“The Funcinpec party has reached the stage where officials are dividing inheritances among themselves once and for all.

“They [Funcinpec officials] are now merely backstage politicians who have no hope of garnering support from citizens. It would be tough for them to restore their popularity. Even Prince Norodom Chakravuth . . . few know who he is,” he said.

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