The Mirror, Vol. 11, No. 497
“Concerning the Phnom Penh Municipality’s policy on the Boeng Kak area development, the authorities said that there would be development in place, which prompted the question that people who have big houses ask whether or not those who have big houses and big plots of land will receive, after the development, just the same land and houses as those who have only small pieces of land. If so, there would be another round of protest, if the division of land and the allocation of housing were not transparent. This is the main concern of the people who currently have big houses in the Boeng Kak area.
“At present, the Boeng Kak area covers 133 hectares, which a company leased from the government at the price of $0.60 per square meter for every year according to the 99-year contract. The company has to pay roughly US$79 million for the lease of this area. Currently, there are 4,012 families living in this area, and the people have come to live in this area since the 1980s or 1990s. In an interview with people living in this area, most of them supported the project of development in place; that is, that they are not relocated to the outskirts during the construction.
“The people who live in the Boeng Kak area claimed that they were happy to support the development formula with the residents in place, because living in orderly ways is better than acting in anarchical ways. If the Phnom Penh Municipality and the company develop the area in accordance with the formula of the development in place, the people in this area will not oppose it, because each of them have lived in this area for a long time, since the 1980s. If the people were relocated to live far away from the city, they would have to protest against it.
“In regard to the Boeng Kak area development project, a number of people are not very satisfied with this project because some of them have big brick houses. If flats were built to be allocated to the people who are living in the Boeng Kak area, as was done in the Borei Keila area [a squatter’s area where the city is building a seven floor building to house the inhabitants], and they received the same portion as those who had small houses, they would not be satisfied. This is a problem that the Phnom Penh Municipality has to solve. Around the Boeng Kak area, there are hundreds of guesthouses, and many restaurants and villas, which were built by the waterfront.
“An unidentified woman briefly explained that she was concerned about the project of the development in place, because her house is on the ground floor, and she is afraid that, after the development, a flat on the second floor might be allocated to her. This would make it difficult for her to keep her things, such as a car, a motorcycle, and so on. However, she did not disagree about the development project, because the municipality and the government need to develop this area.
“The people of the Boeng Kak area are still afraid that the development project will probably affect their residences. Even though the Phnom Penh municipality authorities assured them about the development, the people are still concerned, and do not trust the Phnom Penh municipal authorities and the governor Kep Chutema, because the authorities have not considered the people’s interests important. This attitude is due to the past bitter lessons that the people have not forgotten and are concerned about. Because the Phnom Penh leadership put personal interests above the people’s common interest, there were rumors that this development project provided many commissions to the Phnom Penh governor. The commissions that the governor supposedly received were similar to the benefits or commissions that the governor received from businesses as in the case of the land on the other side of the river in front of the Royal Palace. Kep Chutema is assumed to be the person who received many commissions, almost for the rest of his whole life, for leasing the Boeng Kak area to private companies. No one dares to criticize the governor for receiving such profit.
“The people living in the Boeng Kak area are still concerned about the problem of the authorities’ development project. Kep Chutema’s Phnom Penh municipal authorities showed confidence and took different actions so that the people should not be concerned about the development project, but people seem to be even more worried. It is said that the commissions encouraged the municipal governor to provide the Boeng Kak development investment to private companies, and this is said to be an easy moneymaking method that the Phnom Penh municipal authority of Kep Chutema uses for personal interest, not for the interests of the nation and people. Finally, the people are still concerned because the authorities may secretly receive payments from business people.
“It has been seen that Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chutema was the person who ‘burned’ and sold many national properties, such as the land on the other side of the river in front of the Royal Palace, to the company of Mr. Sok Kong who is a Yuon [Vietnamese], and at that time, Mr. Sok Kong offered Kep Chutema many under-the-table presents. Therefore, what Kep Chutema did in the past was observed as serving more the cause of personal interest than national development.” Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.14, #2981, 3.3.2007