Cambodians back doctor’s snub of French first lady
16 April 2008
PHNOM PENH – Parents of Cambodian children on Wednesday backed a Swiss doctor working in the kingdom who refused a donation from money raised by the sale of a nude photo of the French first lady.
Beat Richner, who heads a Cambodian children’s medical group, reportedly turned down the sale proceeds of the 1993 picture of Italian ex-model Carla Bruni, who is now married to President Nicolas Sarkozy.
The nude eventually sold to an anonymous man of Asian descent at a New York auction last week for USD 91,000 (CHF 91,400), but Richner told media that he would not take any money since the picture would shock Cambodian sensibilities.
Parents in impoverished Cambodia said they approved of Richner’s decision.
"There are many ways that people can raise money and donate it to the hospital, not by nudity," said Bou Koeun, the father of a two-month-old boy who is being cared for at Richner’s Kantha Bopha hospital in Phnom Penh.
Song Lai Sreng, 25, whose baby girl is also receiving treatment at the hospital, said the paediatrician had made the right decision.
"Talking about nudity, it is not acceptable in our culture," she told AFP.
Richner told The Cambodia Daily newspaper on Wednesday that Swiss photographer Michel Comte, who took the picture, said he had a buyer lined up who would acquire the photo if the money went to the Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital Association
But Richner turned him down, the paper said.
Cambodia has a visible sex trade, but at the same time conservatives laud modesty as part of the local culture.
[AFP / Expatica]