The chairman of the Royal Group family of companies, which controls the Cambodian Television Network and the Mobitel mobile telephone company, said Sunday that he is in talks with the Ministry of Interior to rent the land on which Phnom Penh’s state-run Preah Monivong Hospital sits.
“I am making a deal to rent the hospital’s land for a market and to develop the hospital,” Kith Meng said. He said that under the plan, Royal Group would improve the current hospital facility, located on Street 63, and build a shopping center on the vacant part of the site.
Kith Meng said he has been looking for land on which to build a hospital for some time but has not found one. If the deal is completed, he said, Preah Monivong Hospital would not be privatized and the Ministry of Interior would continue to operate it.
On Thursday, squatters and former staff members living on hospital grounds said they were worried that Preah Monivong Hospital had been sold. One retired doctor, who asked not to be named, said he had been told that squatters would be ordered to leave in March.
But Kith Meng said the Royal Group did not intend to purchase the land.
Talk of redeveloping the hospital land dates back to 1989, Sam Noeun, an official from the Interior Ministry’s health department, said Thursday.
At that time 24 families of hospital staff were ordered to leave on-site government housing but refused. In 1998, families living on hospital grounds were again told to leave and refused, he said, and now about 163 families live there.
Last week, in the wake of an attempt by Canadia Bank to develop land at the state-run Preah Bat Sihanouk Hospital, the Cambodian Human Rights Committee issued a statement calling for an independent audit committee to oversee the selling of government property.
Currently there is a National Audit Authority, but CHRAC’s spokesman Thun Saray said Thursday that it is too closely tied to political parties to be effective.
Canadia Bank officially withdrew its interest in Preah Bat Sihanouk Hospital land at a press conference Friday.