Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Surveyor tells court of dam site construction

Surveyor tells court of dam site construction

Surveyor tells court of dam site construction

A witness who worked on the notorious “January 1” dam site in Kampong Thom province spoke at the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday about details of his job as a land surveyor for the site.

Pech Sokha, who was part of a four-man surveying team, was recruited from Phnom Penh to study the land along the Stoeung Chinit River in Kampong Thom’s Baray district.

The location subsequently became the site of the January 1 dam, which was intended to create a reservoir to supply an irrigation system, and which later became notorious for being one of the largest forced-labour projects during the Democratic Kampuchea regime.

“I was asked to measure the land or survey the land on a daily basis. We had to implement the work according to the plan,” he said.

“During that time, it’s not a matter of whether I was happy with it or not. The matter was that Angkar assigned us to do the work, so we had to do it.”

The project, he added, employed about 20,000 workers who each had a quota of carrying the equivalent of 2 cubic metres of soil per day.

“Male and female workers had the same work to do . . . but I didn’t know if each worker could complete that quota,” Sokha said.

The site, he explained, “lacked hygiene” as there were many flies buzzing around as they worked and ate their meals.

But despite this, Sokha said that the workers were mostly cared for, and he “never saw anyone collapse”.

People who were seriously sick were sent to the hospital and pesticides were used to kill the flies. Workers were given ample warning through loudspeakers when an explosion to remove stones was to be set off.

Zone soldiers carrying AK-47s also patrolled the premises on foot to “guard the workers” and “be vigilant of any enemies”.

According to Sokha, the dam was scheduled to be completed a year after its inauguration in early January 1977. It was, however, never finished.

“The dam construction was not completed according to the plan. It took more time for it to be completed,” Sokha said.

Sokha concluded his testimony yesterday, and testimony from a new witness will begin on Monday.


  • Professor beaten by mob in Phnom Penh after alleged hit-and-run

    Updated with new information: 6:44am, Tuesday March 13 2018 A university professor accused of a hit-and-run has been transported to Vietnam with serious head injuries after he was brutally beaten by a mob in Phnom Penh late Sunday afternoon. A video of the attack shows a group

  • American ‘fugitive’ arrested in Cambodia outside of US Embassy

    An American citizen was arrested on request by the US Embassy in Phnom Penh on Tuesday, according to Cambodian police. Major General Uk Hei Sela, chief of investigations at the Department of Immigration, identified the man as American Jan Sterling Hagen, and said he was

  • Australians protest Asean summit visit by PM Hun Sen

    Hundreds of protesters gathered in Sydney’s Hyde Park on Friday to protest against Cambodian strongman Hun Sen, who claimed to have been gifted millions of dollars by the Australian government ahead of a special Asean summit this weekend. An estimated 300 protesters, the majority of

  • One Australian, one Cambodian killed in explosion at military base

    Updated: 5:20pm, Friday 16 March 2018 An Australian tourist and a Cambodian soldier were killed in an explosion on Thursday afternoon at an army base in Cambodia’s Kampong Speu province. The Australian, whom the government initially identified as a technical demining expert in his 40s, and