In the News (KA Set): Rage and despair of Boeung Kak residents after their complaint is dismissed by the Court of Appeal

January 9, 2009
Phnom Penh (Cambodia). 25/12/2008. Boeung Kak resident fainting outside the Court of Appeal © John Vink / Magnum

Phnom Penh (Cambodia). 25/12/2008. Boeung Kak resident fainting outside the Court of Appeal © John Vink / Magnum

From the KA Set Article:

Complaint Dismissed

“With no surprise, the Court of Appeal dismissed the complaint lodged by Boeung Kak lake residents against private company Shukaku on Thursday December 25th. The Municipality of Phnom Penh had agreed for the latter to develop the area under a 99-year concession. After the hearing, there were tears and cries among the Phnom Penh residents living on and around the lake, which is in the heart of the capital. People’s houses have been collapsing in turn into the water since the company started filling in the lake in August. A shopping centre and other facilities are due to appear in this area inhabited since the 1980s. ”

Role of Shukaku (the company filling in the lake):

The hearing went on for three hours. The Court’s decision confounded the lawyer of the residents, Choung Chou Ngy. “The President of the Court declared in his ruling that the Shukaku company had nothing to do with the case!”, he said, considering the decision to be simply “unfair”. “How can he say they have nothing to do with it? We can clearly see that by pumping sand into the lake, the company is causing my clients to lose their homes!”, the lawyer fulminated. However, he has no intention to give up the fight.

After the ruling, the Shukaku company’s lawyer, Cheng Peng  Hâb, played shy with the journalists and tried to avoid them. His phone stuck to his ear, he returned inside the courtroom for shelter, until he was forced to come out after court staff turned the lights off. He then finally gave a terse comment on the verdict, “This case concerns the Municipality and the residents. It is therefore up to the Municipality to solve it. I cannot tell you anything more since I am only the company’s lawyer!”

In the News: Japan Times Writes About Boeung Kak, Corruption

January 9, 2009


Article: “Overseas Aid Benefits Whom?”

From the Article:  “Boeung Kak was long ignored by Phnom Penh’s powerful elite — until recently, when they found a way to profit. In February 2007, the city entered into a 99-year lease agreement with Shukaku, Inc., a private domestic firm with close links to local politicians and Chinese developers. For a mere $79 million, Shukaku now controls 133 hectares, including Boeung Kak and surrounding land.”

“This contract, which threatens to displace at least 4,252 families, was negotiated in a shroud of secrecy without even the pretense of participation from the tens of thousands of people who will be directly affected,” says David Pred, Cambodia Country Director of Bridges Across Borders (BAB), a member of the Cambodian Housing Rights Task Force. “If these families are forcibly removed from their homes, this would mark the largest single displacement of people in Cambodia since the privatization of land in 1989.”

In the News: Will more houses be destroyed?

December 10, 2008

Monday, 08 December 2008
Written by Chhay Channyda 
The Phnom Penh Post

Day-and-night filling by Boeung Kak developers has remaining residents worried more houses will be destroyed

RESIDENTS of Village 4 on the edge of Phnom Penh’s Boeung Kak lake live in constant fear of losing their homes after another house collapsed on Saturday, with two more likely to topple soon, locals say.

Srah Chak commune chief Chhay Thirith said he was not aware of the latest house collapse. When contacted on Sunday, he said he will “look into the case later”. 

Resident Hok Lang’s house partially collapsed on November 19, forcing the 11 residents to now live in cramped conditions in the remaining front section.

According to Hok Lang, when the house collapsed, she was away in her hometown, leaving her children behind. No one was injured in the incident, she said.

“We are worried more houses will collapse if no solution to this problem is found,” she said, adding that authorities have ignored residents’ complaints and have tried to force them to accept US$8,500 per house in a compensation deal or a house at a relocation site.

In a letter written to Kep Chuktema, governor of the Municipality of Phnom Penh, on Thursday, four international human rights organizations slammed the development of Boeung Kak lake, claiming it breached the 2001 Land Law.

The letter, written by the International Federation for Human Rights, the Center on Housing Rights and Evictions, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, said that the sand-filling of the lake by private developer Shukaku Inc, started on August 26, has “worsened flooding and caused destruction of some homes”.

It went on to note concern with the prevalence of forced evictions – evictions carried out without adequate notice, consultation with those affected, legal safeguards or assurances of adequate alternative accommodation – which violate Cambodian law and Cambodia’s international human rights obligations.

The letter stated that “recent research by Amnesty International and local partners indicates that 150,000 people in Cambodia are living under the threat of forced eviction, including up to 70,000 in Phnom Penh alone”.

In The News: “The New City Of The East”

September 18, 2008

From Ka-Set, September 18, 2008: Boeung Kak : les jours du plus grand lac de Phnom Penh sont comptés – Zineb Dryef and Chan Soratha
Boeung Kak: the days of the larger lake of Phnom Penh are numbered
(translated by ‘babelfish’)
“700 families according to the town hall, 4.225 families according to Office of the High Commission of the United Nations to human rights (HCDH). Maybe nearly 20.000 people. The tenants, many, are not taken into account by the municipality what partly explains the gap between the figures of the ones and others. The Amnesty International organization, on its side, denounces what could be “the greatest forced expulsion of the post-war period in Kampuchea”. “
“The minister of environment himself, Mok Mareth, had protested in the columns of the Kampuchean press by informing risks for the system of drainage of the capital. Since, its ministry is keep silent and discharged from any responsibility while returning any question towards the municipality.”


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