H IS Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk has suggested a compromise to resolve the
long-running Olympic Market dipuste.
The King suggested developers Thai
Boon Roong give over half the building to vendors from the existing market for
free, while TBR could sell stalls in the other half of the building at commecial
rates. The new market was finished five months ago but has been unable to open
because of the bitter dispute between vendors and TBR.
As the Post went
to press there was no clear response to the King's plan from TBR, or its head
Theng Boon Ma, a Sino-Khmer who carries a Thai passport.
condition of anonymity one of his aides told the Post that the company was not
aware nor invited to attend an audience with the King.
The aide said
that the company offered a 10 percent discount on the monthly stall fee to
However, he said the company could not satisfy them
though TBR had agreed to lower rental prices by $1,000, drop requirements for a
deposit, give interest free loans and ensure the right to transfer stalls to
He said "Our company has already made a lot of concessions,
but the traders are still not happy. We don't know what they want."
King said when addressing a public audience on land ownership on April 12: "It
is my opinion that TBR should give you half of the building now. TBR can also
enjoy the benefit because they can start business now without waiting to be a
winner or loser in court."
He said the dispute should not be settled
through the courts but should be sorted out on the basis of
He told former stall-holders: "In principle you will
obviously win the lawsuits, but in practice your business will lose."
public audience was attended by government officials, provincial authorities and
representatives of former stall-holders.
The King repeatedly made it
clear that he did not interfere in the disputes between the Royal Government and
TBR saying: "I only reign, not govern", as expressed in the
The old Olympic Market lot was put under contract between
Phnom Penh Municipality and TBR to build a more fashionable market complex in
Construction was finished in November last year when TBR announced
it would give 15 year leases on the stalls at the complex for between $6,000 and
Former stall-holders have repeatedly demanded they be given free
stalls in the new market claiming that they have ownership rights over the lot
because they have occupied the land and run stalls there since 1980.
There are 4,000 stalls in the new market, and 1,951 former
stall-holders, so under the King's compromise plan each of them could acquire a
stall for free.
At the audience, Sam Rainsy, minister of economics and
finance, said the new market would not be allowed to open its doors unless TBR
improves the building's safety and hygiene standards.
He briefed the
public audience on the results of investigations into technical aspects of the
premises by Minister of State Van Molyvann.
Rainsy said that Molyvann
had found "many instances where building standards had not been respected, for
example: fire prevention facilities were inadequate, the stairs were too narrow,
there were too many stalls and the roof has to be replaced with
The King asked Rainsy to stop being tough with TBR suggesting that
the market be immediately opened and that any technical faults could be