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Boeung Kak Lake developer makes moves

Boeung Kak Lake developer makes moves

A view of the former Boeung Kak lake site on which Shukaku plans to build a large commercial and housing development. Photograph: Derek Stout/Phnom Penh Post

After months of inactivity that has fuelled questions about the company’s future, Boeung Kak lake developer Shukaku Inc has launched a recruitment drive, calling for at least half a dozen architects, engineers and other employees.

For months, all has been quiet at the filled-in lake from which thousands have been controversially evicted in recent years. Although the silence has raised questions over the future of the large-scale development, recent job advertisements seem to indicate the project remains on track.

Classifieds that sprang up on the employment website overseasjobs.com last week encourage foreign workers – preferably those who speak Chinese and English – to apply for positions including planning director, head of administration and senior business development manager.

All are listed as being posted by Shukaku – which is headed by ruling-party senator Lao Meng Khin – and all accompany a spiel about the company’s role in developing 114 hectares at Boeung Kak lake.

According to the company’s listing on the site, Shukaku’s vision is to “create quality housing enforcing on sustainability”.

To this point, however, much of its time has been spent relocating “swamp villagers” and “reclaiming land”, it says.

“In 2012, overall concept planning works for this project has been initiated,” the listing continues.

“The company is working towards achieving ISO standards for quality control and therefore is restructuring its human resources structure to include more overseas talents to maintain this quality.”

When contacted yesterday, Sok Heng Ly, an administrative employee listed in the advertisements, confirmed positions were being offered, but could not say whether they directly related to development at Boeung Kak.

“I’m not in a position to say anything more about that,” he said. Asked if Shukaku had any other planned projects in Phnom Penh, he said he was “not sure to what extent I can say”, before adding that he was “not knowledgeable” about this.

In 2007, the government awarded a 99-year, $79 million contract to Shukaku to develop Boeung Kak.

The company partnered with Chinese company Erdos Hong Jun Investment in 2010 to form the property development firm Shukaku Erdos, which operated a sales office in the capital until about seven months ago, an unnamed former employee said yesterday.

The office’s closure – coming after much pomp and circumstance at an official launch in July, 2011 – added to speculation about the project’s future.

Plans announced at the time boasted of a satellite city replete with a business centre, department stores, conference halls, hotels and housing.

Housing Rights Task Force communications officer Long Kim Heang said she had not heard anything recently suggesting Shukaku planned construction any time soon.

“I’m very surprised to here Shukaku is advertising positions,” Heang said.

It was disappointing, she said, given that the conflict at Boeung Kak was yet to be resolved and the company was still victimising residents and evictees who spoke out.

“Really, if this had been resolved, we would be in a position where the company could actually provide good jobs for the Boeung Kak community.”

After the World Bank suspended lending to Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen granted 12 hectares of Boeung Kak to residents in August last year. Protesters continue to ask why this land has yet to be demarcated.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shane Worrell at [email protected]
With assistance from Khouth Sophak Chakrya


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