$40,000 Bathroom Has Future As Office

Aisha Down / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Employees of SCG working on the $40,000 bathroom at Boeung Yeak Laom on Tuesday evening. KT/ Aisha Down

Thai company SCG has spent over $40,000 for the construction of a bathroom that will be used once, by Thai princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, on the 22nd of this month. The bathroom is on the shores of Boeung Yeak Laom, Ratanakkiri, where the Thai Princess will spend one of her three days in Cambodia when she visits the Kingdom next week. It took over half a month to construct, say lake authorities, and includes air conditioning and interior lighting.  
“I don’t know how much we spent for the bathroom,” said Mr. Pursat, the manager of construction for SCG Cement and Building Materials. “Actually, I do know, but I’m not permitted to tell you.”
The Thai company received design instructions from Bangkok for the construction of the bathroom. The toilet, a Thai import, will be thrown out once the princess leaves, explained Mr. Pursat.
“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 says.
“If you have a king—well, just, normal people can’t use the king’s toilet,” he explains.
Mr. Churk, the head of Boeung Yeak Laom, said that SCG’s workers say that the total cost of the bathroom is near $60,000. “$40,000 is a safe guess,” he said. “But for all the people who’ve come to work on the site? It’s up to $250,000 that’s been spent.”
The princess’s bathroom is well over 40 times the cost of a typical Cambodian bathroom.
“For a normal bathroom in a rural village, we need $200 to $300 dollars,” said Channy Or, executive director of the Cambodian Rural Development Team, which has installed toilets all over northern Cambodia. “But, if we wanted to put in a very, very nice bathroom for a rich person, perhaps we could spend up to $1,000.”
Neither Mr. Or nor Mr. Churk were clear on what the extra tens of thousands could be for.  
“They asked if I wanted an air conditioner in the bathroom and I said, sure, put an air conditioner in the bathroom,” says Mr. Churk. “Maybe in the future, if I raise funds, I will expand it so my other staff can work in there.”
“You know, you could spend $1,000, $2,000 on a good bathroom and then give the rest to the communities and villages,” says Mr. Or.
Boeung Yeak Laom will shut down on Sunday night to ensure security for the princess’s visit. Mr. Churk and the Tampoun community that protects the lake are worried about the proceedings of the 22nd, though they are pleased that the princess is visiting.
“We were called to the provincial hall this morning,” says Mr. Churk. “They said, ‘Do the lake well. If you do, in five years, we may extend your contract. If not? We’ll take it back.’” The government has tried to take control of the lake from the indigenous community around it a number of times, says Thal Khat, village chief of Lom.

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