Written by May Titthara
Thursday, 28 May 2009
Angered that their complaints are being ignored by officials, those losing their homes say they hope to force a response.
FRUSTRATED by the lack of government response, Boeung Kak Lake residents are set to hold a press conference today explaining to the public why the land deal between the Municipality of Phnom Penh and a local developer should be terminated, they said.
“We have complained to the National Assembly, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Land Management to revoke a lease agreement between Phnom Penh and Shukaku Inc, signed in 2007,” said Be Pharom, a Boeung Kak resident.
Noun Thun, another lakeside resident, said that after filing complaints at four ministries, he has heard nothing from the government, but he has received threats.
“Yesterday, I got an anonymous letter. They wrote that if we did not agree to move, they would arrest us and put us in jail from one year to five years, and fine each of us 5 million riels (US$1,250). But I don’t care; they just want to threaten us,” he said.
In February 2007, the municipality signed a 99-year-lease with local developer Shukaku Inc, whose director is Cambodian People’s Party Senator Lau Meng Khin.
Shukaku started filling the lake in August 2008, forcing hundreds from them homes.
The lawyer for the Boeung Kak residents, Choung Chou Ngy, said that the aim of the conference was to highlight the illegal nature of the contract between the city and the developer and to finally prompt a government response.
“Our goal is to cancel the lease between the company and the municipality, because the contract is illegal. State property can only be leased for 15 years, but they have a contract 99 years,” he said. “The Royal Government’s sub-decree turning Boeung Kak lake from state public property to the state private property is also against the Land Law.”
Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun could not be reached for comment.