NGO, Boeung Kak activists offer solution

By Khouth Sophak Chakrya PhnomPenhPost 03 May 2013

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A resident walks through a lakeside neighbourhood in 2011 where rights groups and evictees have propsed that families evicted from the Boeung Kak lake area be given land and land titles. Photograph: Will Baxter/Phnom Penh Post

The Boeung Kak community and a land rights NGO yesterday released a proposed demarcation plan they say could solve the long-standing land dispute.

In a map presented yesterday, villagers said they had agreed on a land division that would make room for 70 families locked out of a plot created by the government and set aside for hundreds of families.

“Including the villagers who had been cut out from the land concession plan given by the sub-degree into that free space is the best way to end this chronic land dispute. However, this solution depends on the conscientious decision of the government officials,” notes the report issued by NGO Sahmakum Teang Tnaut, which presented a preliminary plan in July 2012.

“This method is the best for finishing the Beoung Kak land dispute, which is what the government and Beoung Kak villagers want,” said Chan Rithisa, a Beoung Kak representative.  Villagers have been locked in a dispute with the city and the development company since 2007, when CPP senator Lao Meng Khin’s Shukaku company was granted a 99-year lease to fill in the lake and build a massive development complex of apartments, villas, shops, and restaurants. After a protracted struggle, in 2011 Prime Minister Hun Sen signed a sub-decree awarding a 12.44 hectare plot to more than 600 families who had turned down the initial compensation and resettlement schemes.

But scores of families remained locked out of the deal, and the dispute has raged on with near-constant protests that, at times, have grown violent.

Shukaku’s Meng Khin could not be reached for comment.

Phnom Penh City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said he hadn’t heard about the proposed solution, but found it “strange”.

“I don’t know about this issue clearly yet, but it is surprising,” he said.

 

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