Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - 22 more Boeung Kak families receive land titles

22 more Boeung Kak families receive land titles

Boeung Kak residents hold their new land titles this morning.
Boeung Kak residents hold their new land titles this morning. Pha Lina

22 more Boeung Kak families receive land titles

Twenty-two families who were still protesting their evictions from the Boeung Kak lake area accepted offers from the city today, leaving 10 holdouts remaining more than a decade after the lake was first sold and filled in.

The families, from Village 1, each accepted a 4-by-16-metre plot of land in Village 22, located on the other side of the former lake.

Boeung Kak community leader Chan Puthisak, who was among the 22 who received land titles yesterday, said the win belonged to the villagers.

“We have been negotiating since 2007,” Puthisak said. “If we had not struggled, we would not have gotten it. This is the result of a lot of struggle and a lot of sacrifice. This is the achievement of our hard work.”

The news, announced by officials at Phnom Penh City Hall today, means that the city is close to settling one of the country’s most protracted and high-profile land disputes.

Thousands of families were forcibly evicted from the lake area in the years following its sale in 2007. The evictions spurred years of protests by evictees, drawing the ire of local officials and sparking multiple court cases.

Now, 10 years on, much of the former lake remains a sandy expanse, though high-rises, condos and commercial buildings have begun to take shape.

Read more: Boeung Kak: A disastrous decade

Sand is pumped into Boeung Kak lake on August 16, 2011. Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP
Sand is pumped into Boeung Kak lake on August 16, 2011. Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP

At a press conference, Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mean Chanyada said villagers should “get along” with local authorities.

“When brothers and sisters have problems, they should discuss with local authorities rather than making this issue bigger and seeking help from other people who do not solve the problem for you,” Chanyada said, without specifying to whom he was referring. “Brothers and sisters must know how to keep the peace. This is the key point.”

But Soeung Saran, executive director of land rights NGO Sahmakum Teang Tnaut, said the Boeung Kak protesters hadn’t set out to make trouble.

“What they want is a transparent and accountable resolution for them,” Saran said, pointing to the recently demolished White Building as an example of a speedy and peaceful eviction process.

The Boeung Kak resolution “should not have taken such a long time”, he added.

As villagers milled around City Hall with blue-inked thumbs marking the new landowners, 62-year-old Boeung Kak resident Bou Soychhay said that he was relieved to finally feel the land title in his hand.

“We are receiving a plot almost the same size as our previous land,” Soychhay said. “We were scared and worried when we did not have the land title, but now that we have the papers, we are very happy.”

Updated: 7:10am, Thursday 28 December 2017

MOST VIEWED

  • Breaking: US House passes 'Cambodia Democracy Act'

    The US House of Representatives in Washington, DC, on Monday, passed the “HR 526 Cambodia Democracy Act”, also known as the Cambodia Democracy Act of 2019. If signed off by the president, the bill will allow two major sets of action to be taken against high-ranking Cambodian

  • ‘Zero-dollar’ tours under fire

    Minister of Tourism Thong Khon has blamed “zero-dollar” tour operators for the decrease in foreign tourists to Angkor Archaeological Park in the first half of this year and has called for action against them. Angkor Archaeological Park received 1.24 million foreign visitors in the first half

  • Some jobs off limits to foreigners from August

    Beginning from the second week of August, foreigners will be banned from driving taxis and tuk-tuks, as well as being motorcycle delivery drivers, street food vendors, hairdressers and product distributors among other lower-income jobs. Some white-collar jobs such as the head of human resources will

  • Breaking: Rubbish found packed inside 83 containers at S'ville port

    Eighty-three containers packed with rubbish were broken open at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port by joint authorities on Tuesday. The origin of the containers has yet to be ascertained, Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said. Pheaktra, who is also the ministry’s secretary of state, said