Pa Socheatvong, the Phnom Penh governor and head of the Phnom Penh branch of the Cambodian Red Cross (CRC), oversaw the opening of a luxury six-story hotel in Preah Vihear City on Monday, officials said.
The Green Palace Hotel, which has been under construction for three years and is a joint project by the Phnom Penh and Preah Vihear branches of the CRC, will generate income for the organization, according to the group.
“I hope that we will receive a lot of income from the hotel,” said Men Neary Sopheak, spokesperson for the CRC, declining to comment further.
Rath Sophea, acting director of the Preah Vihear arm of the CRC, said the new hotel has 80 rooms and that the income generated at the establishment would go into the coffers of the Preah Vihear and Phnom Penh branches.
“This is the best luxury hotel in Preah Vihear province,” he said.
Phum Chantinie, secretary-general of the CRC, which raised more than $13 million in its annual donation drive in May, declined to comment on the hotel’s funding or future profits.
In April last year, Uy Sam Ath, director of disaster response at the CRC, said funding for the Preah Vihear hotel “comes from a group of people led by Pa Socheatvong.”
Mr. Socheatvong said he was too busy to comment Monday.
Headed by Bun Rany, the wife of Prime Minister Hun Sen, the CRC is widely seen as being politicized due to its affiliation with the ruling CPP, which would directly contradict the edicts of the global humanitarian agency.
Ms. Chantinie chastised reporters in May for suggesting as much, despite Ms. Rany previously delivering pro-CPP speeches at humanitarian aid events.
In April last year, Lor Chann, the Preah Vihear provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, suggested that Mr. Socheatvong and his associates may have chosen to build the hotel under the Red Cross banner in order to avoid paying tax.
On Monday, Mr. Chann said his organization would monitor the hotel.
“In my opinion, the income from the hotel won’t go into the Cambodian Red Cross 100 percent, so we will continue to observe,” he said.
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