A royal flush

February 28, 2016

Cambodia’s latest foray into the pages of the world’s press is perhaps a little unfair on the country itself. Usually the country and its gang of bandit overlords can bring the country into disrepute without any help from the rest of the world.

But this time, the (probably) unwitting protagonist is Thai princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, for whom a Thai building company spent $40,000 building her a lavatory in Cambodia. To be used by her precisely once.


And in fact, she never used it at all. But she did look around it. So that’s OK.

The toilet is located near Yeak Lom lake in Ratanakiri province, in the northeast of the country, where the princess was whisked by helicopter to begin her three-day visit to Cambodia last week.


The lavatory, housed in a freestanding outhouse measuring eight square metres, is fully air-conditioned, took two weeks to build and apparently cost 66 times the average annual salary in Cambodia.


The lavatory was constructed by a Thai firm called Siam Cement Group, who are reportedly owned by the Thai royal family. So the princess was merely spending her own money on building her own crapper. And the Thai royals are not short of money: Forbes reckons the king is the richest royal on earth, and worth some $30 billion.

My problem isn’t with Sirindhorn. If she wants to spend obscene amounts of her own money buying bogs she won’t use, than that’s fine. It’s the servility that gets me. It’s well known that the queen of England thinks that everyone’s bathroom smells of fresh paint, because that’s all she ever smells. Why do we take these people seriously?

A majority of Cambodia’s population has trouble using any toilets at all.

Some 33 percent of schools nationwide have no toilet facilities at all, according to the Cambodian ministry of education. NGOs estimate that the figure could be as high as 80 percent in areas like Ratanakiri.

But after the princess left Yeak Lom, her special commode was thrown out and the building is being converted into an office for local officials. A manager from SCG said: “Normal people can’t use a [royal] toilet.” Hmmn.



One Response to “A royal flush”

  1. Richard Ellis said

    I was thinking about monarchy on my walk along the coastal path in Dorset today(it was very beautiful)and I suppose if Liz owns much of it it means some scumbag developer can’t build a Wallmart on it which is good. Not perfect but ok so far!

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