The Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals have sold a royal residence in Koh Kong province to the government for about $6.5 million after it was donated to them in October by the king and queen mother.
Upon donating the residence to Kantha Bopha, King Norodom Sihamoni and the Queen Mother Norodom Monineath said they hoped the gift would help the health care foundation overcome its financial difficulties.
In a written reply to the royals in January, Kantha Bopha founder and director Beat Richner said it turned out to be the largest donation the foundation had ever received, selling for $6.56 million.
“Majesty, let me thank you from the bottom of my heart for His Majesty’s and Her Majesty’s huge donation. It is the greatest donation our Foundation…has ever got the last 24 years,” he wrote.
Mr. Richner wrote that after purchasing the land, the government had declared the property to be a “Public Property of the Nation” in honor of the late King Norodom Sihanouk. Spokesmen for the Council of Ministers and Finance Ministry said they were not aware of the sale or what the future held for the residence.
The forested compound in provincial capital Khemara Phoumint City is on a prime 1-hectare site overlooking the Meteuk River. The site contains a single-story royal villa and more than 10 additional small houses.
Koh Kong provincial governor Bun Leut, who claimed he was also unaware of the sale, said the compound was occupied but that residents knew their situation was temporary.
“There is a military unit living on the land, but it is not a problem because it belongs to the Royal Palace and they will leave if the palace needs the land at any time,” he said.
Srey Sokharom, a provincial police officer, said he had lived in a house on the site since 1996.
“There are about 50 to 60 families living here,” he said. “Most of them are police, military police and civil servants. If the state needs the land back, I would provide it, but if they help by paying some money, that would be good for us.”