Cost of Oknha Honorific Skyrockets to $500,000

The $100,000 price tag of the royally bestowed honorific “oknha” has quintupled, now requiring a donation of more than $500,000 to the state, according to a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen and dated March 20.

“The government will request that the king bestow the title of oknha upon generous people who donate money or equipment that is worth more than $500,000,” the sub-decree says.

The honorific is meant to confer prestige, but critics say its luster has dulled in recent years after several oknhas were linked to high-profile cases of human rights violations, land grabs and illegal logging.

The once-rare title has also grown more common, with the number of oknhas rising from about 20 in 2004 to more than 700 in 2014.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said he did not know the number of oknhas in the country or the reason for the increased price tag.

“I have never been interested in oknha matters,” he said.

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