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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Second Battambang market embroiled in property dispute

Second Battambang market embroiled in property dispute

Second Battambang market embroiled in property dispute

Stall owners at Beung Chhouk Market say they will set fire to market if they are forced to relocate by private investment group.

VENDORS at Battambang's Boeung Chhouk Market have threatened to burn all the shops around the site if authorities and private investors try to remove them at their own cost, vendors told the Post Tuesday.

"If they still want us to move, we will get back at them by burning all the shops around the market," Hun Thnou, representative of the Beung Chhouk Market vendors said Tuesday.

Tensions at the market rose when property developer Kim Hoc Heng Co released a letter ordering all venders to leave the market by January 4, after which they promised to repair the market and sell the stalls back to the vendors.

"The market investor said they will sell the stalls back to us for US$6,000 to $8,000 just for one shop after they finish construction, so the best way for us is to burn it to ashes together," vendor Srey Mum said, adding that this was far too expensive for most vendors to afford.

This is Battambang's second market vendor-versus-property -developer standoff, with a similar dispute having just been solved at the province's Mong Russey Market. Vendors at the market last week won their tussle with developer Chiv Battambang Cheak ­­鈥?who agreed not to evict them in order to renovate the property.

Fighting fire with fire

Provincial human rights monitor for Licadho, Heng Say Hong, said the situation was unfair to vendors, but advised them not to react with violence.

"If they burn the shops they will face penal law, even though they only want to get a settlement from the authorities," he added.

Uy Ry, Battambang district governor, said he knew his townspeople well enough to know they would not cause damage to the town.

"I dare to promise that all of the vendors here will not burn the shops, because I know the people's character in my province."

Tang Chhun, general manager of Kim Hoc Heng Co said Tuesday that he could not understand why the vendors demanded compensation.

"[The market] does not belong to them," he said. "Provincial officials have come to resolve my problem and so then I will start to construct my shop," he added. 

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