A Change of Guard

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Monday 29 February 2016

Media Scolded for ‘Royal Toilet’ Reports

Media Scolded for ‘Royal Toilet’ Reports
Khmer Times/Pav Suy
Sunday, 28 February 2016

Employees working on the “structure” for Thai Princess Maha Chakri Siridhorn at Boeung Yeak Lao in Ratanakkiri earlier this month. KT/Aisha Down

Although Thai Princess Maha Chakri Siridhorn’s visit to Ratanakkiri province last week was intended to celebrate the inauguration of a newly constructed health center, the visit became better known throughout the world – due to coverage by international media – for a different building. 

Frustrated by reports of a now-infamous “$40,000 toilet” constructed for the princess’ visit to the national park, the provincial administration has issued a statement lambasting media coverage of the air-conditioned structure as harmful and inaccurate, saying there was not even a toilet in it. 

“This building was constructed for the princess for a temporary rest after her meal. It was not a toilet like the news reporting said,” the statement read. “This news seriously harmed the honor and dignity of the province, especially since it triggered criticism of the provincial authority from a public that did not receive all angles of the news.”

It added that the cost of the structure was paid for entirely by the Bangkok-based Siam Cement Group, which was in charge of its construction. The Cambodian government did not disburse any funds for it.

The statement also said that provincial officials who investigated the structure after the royal visit had not found a toilet inside – only office furniture, a vase and an air conditioner. A manager of construction for SCG, who identified himself as Mr. Pursat, told Khmer Times earlier this month that it would be removed from the structure after the princess’s visit.  

“The toilet will probably only be used one time, by the princess. Only the princess can use it, anyway. Then it will be taken out and the building will be used by the community as an office,” he said, in the report that was the first to mention the cost of the now controversial toilet.

The royal visit to Ratanakkiri was part of Princess Siridhorn’s three-day visit to the Kingdom. During the visit, she met with key Cambodian figures including the prime minister and the King, and attended the opening of a school she helped fund.

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