CPP-Owned Hotel Allegedly on Market Despite 49-Year Lease

The 1930s French colonial era Renakse Hotel, located opposite the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, is apparently up for sale, a revelation that has angered the hotel’s longstanding manager and current leaseholder.

Renakse Hotel manager Kim Chantha said Monday that she ob­tained a document recently that purported to show that the landmark property has been sold by its owners—the ruling CPP.

Following the toppling of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979, the hotel was the original headquarters of the Kampuchea People’s Rev­o­lutionary Party, a precursor to the CPP, and has remained a CPP-own­ed property ever since, CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said Monday.

Kim Chantha, who has managed the hotel for two decades, said she signed a 49-year lease in 2001 with the CPP agreeing to pay rent of $20,000 per month.

The sale of the hotel, if it in fact takes place, would be a lease violation, Kim Chantha added.

“I told them for three years, ‘Please, if you need to sell, sell to me,’” she said in an interview. “But they never told me they were selling,” she added.

“I’ve put a lot of money into my business over the last 20 years.”

According to a letter provided by Kim Chantha, CPP Secretary of State at the Ministry of Cults and Reli­gion Min Khin was sent a letter Feb 1 from CPP Financial Secre­tary-General Chea Soth stating that the CPP intends to sell the Renakse.

The document states that the property covers 6,547 square me­ters of land, and names a Ms Cheung Sokunthearvy as the in­tended buyer of the hotel.

Contacted by telephone Monday, Min Khin, who will likely take over as minister of cults and religion in the new government and is currently secretary-general of the government’s Permanent Organizing Com­mission of National and In­ternational Ceremonies, declined to com­ment. Contact details for Cheung Sok­un­thearvy were unavailable.

However, Chea Sokhum, a dep­uty to Min Khin at the organizing commission, confirmed by telephone that a contract has been drawn up for the sale of the hotel for $3.8 million.

“[The CPP] already signed the contract to sell to a private company, and I have the documents,” Chea Sokhum said by telephone.

Sung Bonna, owner of Bonna Realty Group, said Monday that at current market prices the hotel’s land was worth between $3,000 to $3,500 per square me­ter, making the 6,547 square me­ter property worth about $19.6 to $22.9 million.

(Additional reporting by Rollo Romig)

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