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Developer vows to help families

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Villagers from Phnom Penh’s Borei Keila community clash with police yesterday morning. Photo by: Heng Chivoan

In the wake of a clash between residents and officials, the owner of a company developing land at Phnom Penh’s Borei Keila community yesterday pledged to provide housing to families who registered their residence with local authorities in 2003.

At a meeting with Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Mu Sochua and three village representatives at Prampi Makara district hall after a protest yesterday, Phanimex owner Suy Sophan said she believed more than 140 remaining families had registered their ownership or lease of land in the community and were entitled to receive housing.

“For those who rented houses before [and are unregistered], I will grant an equal policy resolution depending on the situation of each family,” Suy Sophan told the Post, adding that she would meet with families who were claiming the right to housing.

The Phanimex Promise

In 2003, Phanimex agreed to construct 10 buildings on two hectares of land to house 1,776 families set to be displaced from the area, in exchange for the rights to develop a remaining 2.6 hectares.

However, only eight of the buildings have been constructed and villagers have said that 384 families are still waiting.

Suy Sophan declined to comment when asked whether the two remaining buildings would be constructed.

Police Clash

One resident was injured during a clash between more than 100 Borei Keila residents who were marching towards the district hall in Veal Vong commune, and a coalition of district police and officials yesterday.

Resident Choek San, 44, said police hit her head with a stick, causing her injury, as she and other protesters approached the district hall to demand authorities intervene to compel Phanimex to construct the additional buildings.

“They [police] hit us like we are prisoners,” she said.

Despite the crackdown, villagers continued to protest and were later joined by Mu Sochua. Protesters again clashed with authorities, throwing shoes, stones and bags of water at officials, who used shields and tried to disperse the protest.

Municipal police chief Touch Naruth ordered officials to push villagers off the street after they refused to leave.

“Brothers and sisters protesting against Phanimex Company, it is your matter, I do not oppose but please. . . do not cause disorder along the street,” he said. “I will use force if you all do not leave the street.”

Authorities later dispersed the protest.

A resident claimed police arrived at the community yesterday evening, saying they had come to check documentation because some villagers were living there illegally, but said police later left.

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