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Happy ending for Sihanoukville’s School of Hope

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The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSVY) decided to provide a budget package of around $780,000 to the School of Hope to find a new location. Photo supplied

Happy ending for Sihanoukville’s School of Hope

The Ministry of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspection said the relocation dispute facing the School of Hope in Commune IV, in Preah Sihanouk province’s Sihanoukville, has been amicably resolved.

It said the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSVY) had decided to provide a budget package of around $780,000 to the school to find a new location.

This agreement was reached on Sunday, after the Minister of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspection Men Sam An was ordered to visit the school by Prime Minister Hun Sen and resolve the issues it faced.

In mid-December, the prime minister issued a notification to the Ministry of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspection to investigate and report to the government about irregularity concerning the School of Hope, which accused the MoSVY of issuing it with a three-month ultimatum to move out of its over 1ha plot.

Ministry of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspection secretary of state Nop Channarin told The Post on Monday that the dispute was settled by both parties in the spirit of a win-win solution for all.

He said the ministry agreed to provide a budget package of $780,000 to the school in order to relocate to a new location.

“The decision was made at the MoSVY’s request as it owns the land. The school agreed to move to a new location and requested for more time until August 20 to do so,” Channarin said.

MoSVY spokesman Touch Channy told The Post on Monday that the parties had solved their differences and the problem had been amicably settled. After the school receives the budget package, he said, it must find a new location and move.

He said: “The land belongs to the ministry and it needs to develop it. So it gave due notice to the school to move out and placed some policy conditions for it to continue operating.”

School of Hope principal Phum Narith could not be reached for comment on Monday. However, he had previously claimed that the land on which the school stands was purchased from villagers in the area since 2002.

In August, Khmer Rise Party president and Supreme Consultation Forum member Sok Sovann Vathana Sabung submitted an investigation report to Prime Minister Hun Sen seeking his intervention in the case of the MoSVY giving a three-month ultimatum to the school to move out.

Vathana Sabung told The Post on Monday that he had no objection to the solution that was brokered.

But he regretted that his alleged irregularity of the MoSVY “grabbing” the school’s land will go unpunished under the law.

“We will continue to monitor the case since this is just conciliation. But we regret that there is no punishment or fine and no decision was made on which party was wrong or right and who won or lost,” he said.

Narith had earlier said the school belonged to the Assemblies of God in Preah Sihanouk province. It has been in operation and followed the government’s policies for some 20 years, trained and fed around 70,000 orphans and poor students, and has nearly 50 teachers.

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