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Senate calls for lake action

The Senate’s human rights commission has urged the governor of Phnom Penh to act to resolve an ongoing dispute between residents of the Boeung Kak lake area and a development company headed by Cambodian People’s Party Senator Lao Meng Khin.

The letter, from the Senate’s Commission on Human Rights Reception of Complaints and Investigation and dated Saturday, came in response to a request filed to Senate President Chea Sim in October, requesting that he intervene.

The request was made after residents’ homes were flooded with sand and water by the development firm.

A copy of the complaint from the villagers was sent to Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema along with the commission’s letter, which called for the dispute to be resolved “as soon as possible”.

“The commission is sending this request and the related documents to the Phnom Penh governor to check and address the problems,” the letter read.

“We hope that the Phnom Penh governor will pay attention on this issue and provide information about [the] resolution ... to the commission in appropriate time.”

Local developer Shukaku Inc signed a lease agreement with the municipality in 2007, giving it the right to develop the lake.

The following year, Shukaku began filling in the lake with sand to make way for a 133-hectare housing and commercial development. Rights groups have said the project will ultimately displace more than 4,000 families.

Ly Mom, a 45-year-old representative of the lakeside’s Village 24, welcomed the attention from the Senate, but said she did not know what kind of response to expect from the governor.
“We are very happy with this intervention letter, however we are waiting to see direct settlement from Phnom Penh governor Kep Chuktema,” she said.

Kep Chuktema declined to comment when contacted yesterday, saying he was in a meeting. A representative of Shukaku Inc, who asked not to be named, declined to comment on the issue yesterday, saying it was a “political” matter.

Thach Setha, a member of Phnom Penh municipal council, also welcomed the letter, saying he hoped to see a “win-win solution” to the long-
running dispute.

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