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PM orders halt to market upgrades

PRIME Minister Hun Sen has ordered market owners across the Kingdom to stop approving unnecessary upgrades to existing facilities, saying he has grown weary of dealing with the steady stream of vendors who beg for help outside his residences.

In a speech marking the launch of a new government building in Preah Vihear province Wednesday, Hun Sen blasted those who have given the green light to contentious market upgrades.

“I am very miserable. I cannot sleep. The protesters complain in front of my house because of you,” said the premier, who compared the protesters’ grievances to searing metal or bricks that have been removed from a fire pit.

“If they were hot potatoes, I could catch them and eat them. But you throw the hottest metal or bricks onto my hand,” he said.

Hun Sen said he had recently read a spate of petitions containing the thumbprints of disgruntled vendors complaining that they had been forced to move from their market stalls to make way for renovations, only to be offered the chance to do business in new stalls at dramatically inflated rents.

In response, the vendors had brought their complaints straight to the premier’s Phnom Penh and Takhmao homes.

“I have no objections if you want to secure the market area to avoid vendors selling on the sidewalk, but do not renovate the market while the people are busy earning income,” Hun Sen said.

He then ordered officials to resolve an ongoing market dispute in Pursat’s Krakor district.

Within hours Wednesday, it appeared Hun Sen’s comments had had an effect.

Pursat Governor Chhay Sareth said authorities had “decided to cancel” a planned renovation at the market.

Krakor vendors were surprised but delighted at what appeared to be a sudden shift in their fortunes. “We are very happy with the intervention from Prime Minister Hun Sen, and we hope that we can earn income in this market forever,” Bun Putheavy said.

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