Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn flew from Phnom Penh to Ratanakkiri province and back again on Monday, alighting for a lakeside lunch and the opening of a health center on the first day of her three-day visit to the country.
Following an hourlong meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen at his office building, Princess Sirindhorn flew by helicopter to the popular Yeak Lom Lake in Banlung City, where a luxurious outhouse had been constructed at her request—and at an estimated cost of more than $40,000.
The princess, however, did not make use of the bathroom during her brief sojourn.
“She did not use the toilet…but she went to see the bathroom,” said deputy provincial governor Nhem Sam Oeun. “When she went back to Phnom Penh, they removed the modern toilet.”
The bathroom, which was built over the course of 19 days by a team of Thai laborers hired by the Bangkok-based Siam Cement Group (SCG), made international headlines over the weekend. In an interview on Friday, author Andrew MacGregor Marshall described the structure as “an insult to the Cambodian people.”
Absent its toilet, Mr. Sam Oeun said, the 8-square-meter building would be put to other use by the Yeak Lom community.
While in Ratanakkiri, the princess presided over a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a public health center in O’Chum district that had been donated by the Thai royal family, according to district governor Pak Son.
“Now, the people who live near the health center can enjoy easy access to health services,” he said.
The center was constructed last year at a cost of more than $260,000 and would be staffed by six “nurses and other health care professionals,” said Ung Rattana, director of the provincial health department.
Kao Kim Huorn, a minister attached to the prime minister, said that over the next two days, Princess Sirindhorn would pay visits to projects related to her area of interest: technology. He said she would attend a groundbreaking ceremony for the Kompong Speu Institute of Technology—also donated by the Thai royal family—today and tour the Kompong Chheuteal Technology Institute in Kompong Thom province on Wednesday.
Mr. Kim Huorn said that during his meeting with the princess on Monday morning, Mr. Hun Sen thanked the princess for her contributions to health and education in Cambodia.
“Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen thanked her for helping in the education and health sectors, especially related to technology institutes,” he said.
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