About 100 residents from Boeung Kak lake’s Village 7 clashed with police yesterday during a heated protest relating to the recent flooding of lakeside homes by local developer Shukaku Inc.
The protesters gathered at the developer’s office at the lakeside, urging Prime Minister Hun Sen to intervene to halt the pumping of sand into the lake and reevaluate compensation packages for those agreeing to relocate for a controversial development.
The protest turned violent when a Shukaku worker ordered police employed by the developer to destroy a protestor’s banner, knocking two villagers to the ground. Village representative Ly Mom also fell to the ground unconscious during the protest.
Hout Motdy, a resident of Village 20, said that she was frustrated by the lack of action on the part of the authorities.
“I have been everywhere, including Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house, the Prime Minister’s Cabinet, City Hall, the Daun Penh district office and the developer’s office but they just sent us from place to place,” she said.
“This shows the intention of the government not to address our issue.”
Hout Motdy said villagers have never heard Hun Sen address the Boeung Kak development issue in public.
“If Samdech [Hun Sen] just says one word to let us stay, we will be able to stay here,” she said.
Rights groups say more than 4,000 families are set to be displaced by the 133-hectare commercial and housing development project, which is being built by Shukaku, a firm owned by ruling party senator Lao Meng Khin.
Lim Leang Se, deputy chief of the Prime Minister’s Cabinet, said yesterday that the government had a clear plan for relocating the villagers from the development zone.
He added that city authorities would coordinate with the developer to pay the villagers compensation, provided they had “formal supporting documents or any identification papers”.
“The compensation options are either an apartment in another area, cash reparations or the building of a house at the development zone,” Lim Leang Se said.
Also yesterday, City Hall issued a statement calling on people not to be incited by small groups of protesters.
“Phnom Penh Municipality appeals to people living under the Boeung Kak development project not to listen to a few small opportunists”, it said, asking villagers to contact the development firm to work out compensation payments.
It stated that around 2,000 families from the lake had already accepted government compensation packages.
Daun Penh deputy governor Sok Penh Vuth, who visited the scene of the protest yesterday, declined to comment.