Representatives of 32 families living in the capital’s Chamkarmon district staged a protest yesterday in Tonle Bassac commune, pleading with Prime Minister Hun Sen to intervene on their behalf against the Thai Bun Roong company, which they say is forcing them to sell their land at below market value to make way for development.
Yesterday’s protest follows a letter that the residents, living on a parcel of land in Tonle Bassac commune known as T85, sent to Hun Sen last week. In that letter, dated October 12 and received by the Post yesterday, the villagers argue against a September Council of Ministers announcement demanding they either sell their land to the company for US$400 a square metre or resettle on company-provided lots in Dangkor district.
“The September 8 announcement from the Council of Ministers violates our rights by limiting the price we can sell our land for. This is contrary to your decision dated December 29, 2007,” the letter says.
The December 2007 decision by Hun Sen referenced in the residents’ letter encourages the company and the villagers to negotiate a selling price for the land that is based on real estate values. Villagers contend that the land is worth to US$1,500 to US$2,000 per square metre.
They sent identical letters to National Assembly president Heng Samrin and Anti-Corruption Unit president Om Yientieng, but so far have yet to receive a response.
Khun Bunsoeun, a representative from Thai Bun Roong Company, defended the firm’s actions yesterday, claiming that the company had purchased the disputed land from the Ministry of Defense in 1990 for US$1 million.
As a result, the villagers have been illegally living on company land, he said.
“We are pleased to meet with villagers to solve this problem. We will meet with them to negotiate the land price in accordance with the September 8 Council of Ministers announcement,” he said.
Khun Bunsoeun also said that his company had already met with five families over the past few days.
Last week, Council of Ministers Secretary of State Prak Sokhonn upheld the validity of the September 8 announcement, telling the Post, “I signed it upon a request from the Phnom Penh Municipal Hall. The price of land and compensation were made by the Phnom Penh Municipal Hall”.