Officials at the state-run Preah Bat Norodom Sihanouk Hospital have rejected an offer by Canadia Bank, which was supported by Deputy Prime Minister Lu Laysreng, to buy or rent part of the hospital’s land for the development of apartments, Y Tuon Seang, director of the hospital, said Monday.
Y Tuon Sean said representatives from the bank and Golden City, the apartment complex adjacent to the state-run hospital, came to meet him three times to negotiate buying the land, despite multiple rejections of its offer.
Hong Hean, the hospital’s administrator, said that at the third meeting, bank officials delivered an envelope containing a letter from a high-ranking government official offering to give each tuberculosis patient at the hospital about $0.75 a day for one year if the bank could buy or rent an area roughly 10 by 500 meters .
The TB wing of the hospital would be demolished, along with a concrete fence, if Canadia’s development plans come to fruition, Hong Hean said. He would not disclose the identity of the high-ranking official, nor the value of the land in question.
“We cannot sell our hospital to anyone. We must keep it for hospital uses,” Hong Hean added.
Canadia Bank’s plan for the hospital, which is the largest hospital in Phnom Penh, would include building a road in front of Golden City apartments, Hong Hean said.
It would also construct another set of apartments where the TB wing is now located.
Y Tuon Sean said that the hospital rejected the offer of money because they feared it would make them beholden them to the bank.
“I am afraid the aid will have ties…. The company offered help at the same time they asked for the land,” Y Tuon Sean said.
Contacted Monday, Canadia Bank’s Vice-President Phuong Khinh Hao referred questions about the project to Sok Sambath, who is in charge of construction for the bank.
Sok Sambath didn’t have any details about development of the hospital’s land.
“I only heard about the issue,” he said. “There is no construction design yet.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Rural Development Minister Lu Laysreng acknowledged last week that he met Canadian Bank’s president to discuss buying hospital land.
“Yes the Canadian Bank president contacted me about the land,” he said. “They know I have a good relationship with the Health Minister [Nuth Sokhom]. I will tell the minister about this.”
Hospital officials wrote to retired King Norodom Sihanouk to ask him to intervene and prevent the loss of hospital land, Hong Hean said.