An Apsara National Authority (ANA) official said that the people recently protesting against the ANA's demolishing of illegally-built structures in the Angkor area was only because they misunderstood the situation after the provincial administration issued a letter asking the ANA to suspend the demolition of the structures for a period of time in order to hold discussions on the topic first.
Meanwhile, the protesters claimed that the ANA’s enforcement of the law was too strict.
ANA spokesman Long Kosal said on July 17 that the Siem Reap provincial administration had recently sent the ANA a letter asking them to suspend demolition of illegal structures, but people misunderstood the situation and mistakenly believed that the structures in question were no longer allowed to be demolished under any circumstances leading them to protest against the ANA officials when they attempted to carry out their work.
He added that to solve this problem, the ANA will work with local authorities to educate them on the situation and to resume demolition of illegal structures where required.
“They had built these structures on vacate lands. They built houses and sheds. In principle, until we permit them to build these structures, they are illegal, so these were unauthorised structures that are illegal,” he said. “We cannot permit illegal construction to occur, or allow any illegal construction we find to remain standing, because if we do that it will only lead to more and more illegal construction.”
Provincial administration director Sok Thol said that teams from the provincial hall and the ANA general department and other relevant officials had demolished the structures .
At the joint commission to facilitate land use and prevent illegal construction to ensure public order in the Angkor resort area, it was stated that a meeting should be held to determine the time and date for the demolition of these structures so that neither party can carry out the demolition work on its own.
“We must cooperate together to demolish illegal constructions in the area, and we must cooperate with town, district and commune authorities involved to work together to effectively prevent illegal constructions in the first place,” he said.
The provincial administration on July 17 issued a letter informing the ANA of its request for a temporary suspension of the demolition of illegal structures in zones I and II of the Angkor area so that they could discuss how to best go about implementing the work.
The letter reads that during, before and after the commune council elections, the ANA had carried out its work without discussing it at the meeting of the joint commission between the provincial administration and the ANA.
A villager in Siem Reap town’s Kokchak commune who asked not to be named told The Post that they had protested against the ANA's implementation of the law because the authorities had implemented it too strictly and now even the construction of small sheds required their authorisation.
He said that besides that issue, the people were also not satisfied because the ANA officials had gone to do it on their own without the participation of local authorities whom they trusted more.
“The ANA's enforcement of the law was too strict, even people who make small encampments, the ANA does not exempt them either. I do not understand what the ANA is thinking,” he said.
ANA spokesperson Kosal responded that the ANA wants people to follow the law and cease doing whatever they wished thinking that the rules didn't apply to them. If they do not respect the law, the ANA will further restrict their activities because the protests led to disorder and seriously affected the operations of the Angkor resort.