Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Boeung Kak land reclassified

Boeung Kak land reclassified

Boeung Kak land reclassified

LARGE portions of the city’s Boeung Kak lakeside have been reclassified as state private property under the joint control of City Hall and the local company behind the controversial filling of the lake, according to a recent sub-decree.

The document, signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on July 20, states that 126.85 hectares of the lake and its surroundings are to be “considered as a state private property for Shukaku Inc Company to develop based on the government’s purpose”.

“The area mentioned above is legally managed and controlled by related Ministries and Phnom Penh Municipal Hall with the cooperation of Shukaku Inc Co Ltd,” the sub-decree states. Unlike state public land, which includes lakes, rivers, roads and parks, state private land can be legally leased or sold to companies or individuals.

In February 2007, Shukaku, an obscure local firm owned by Cambodian People’s Party Senator Lao Meng Khin, signed a lease agreement with the municipality giving it the right to develop the lakeside, then a state public property. The following year, it began filling in the lake to make way for a 133-hectare housing and commercial development at the lakeside. Housing rights advocates say that more than 4,000 families will be displaced by the project.

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Pa Socheatvong confirmed that the area contained in the sub-decree had been classified as state private land for some time, but did not give any reason for the reclassification.

“Before [the lake] was state public land, so government could not rent it to a private company to develop it. They have to reclassify it as state private land in order that the private company gets the legal right to develop that area,” he said.

The recent sub-decree followed a similar subdecree issued in August 2008, which also claimed to have reclassified the lake as state private land.
David Pred, executive director of Bridges Across Borders Cambodia, said yesterday that the new sub-decree – like the earlier sub-decree – was an attempt to provide “retrospective legal cover” for the 2007 lease agreement.

“The state did not have the right to lease the lake and surrounding land at that time, because the lake is state public property, which cannot be subject to long-term leases,” he said. He said that many of the lakeside families had a legal right to their land.

Pred also described the new sub-decree as “puzzling” in that it referred to 126 hectares rather than the 133 hectares that were leased in 2007.

“This may be an indication that the Council of Ministers recognises some of the land that was originally leased to Shukaku as private land,” he said, and called on the Council to disclose to residents the exact boundaries of the development area.

“Those who fall outside those boundaries should be given land titles without further delay,” he added.

Representatives of Shukaku Inc could not be reached for comment yesterday. The company’s office address, as listed in the Yellow Pages, is an empty lot on Street 114, and the phone number connects to a restaurant in another part of the city.

Duy Thov, deputy secretary general of the Council for the Development of Cambodia, declined to comment.

MOST VIEWED

  • Guards protest dismissals, reject claims of sharing naked photos of child

    Some 20 former security guards at the US Embassy in Phnom Penh protested on Tuesday against their dismissal. They accused their employers of falsely claiming they had viewed and shared child pornography from their mobile phones as grounds for their termination. In total, 32 personnel were dismissed

  • We’re going to Wisney World!

    More than 6,000 mostly Chinese attendees witnessed the inauguration ceremony of a $1 billion Sihanoukville resort project called Wisney World in the capital on Wednesday. The event on Koh Pich, attended by several senior Cambodian government officials, is a joint venture between China’s AMC International and

  • Funcinpec urges probe into deadly Preah Sihanouk accident

    THE Funcinpec party has urged the government, especially the Ministry of Interior, to investigate the traffic accident in Preah Sihanouk province which left Prince Norodom Ranariddh badly injured and his wife Ouk Phalla dead. Funcinpec Vice President You Hokry told reporters at Botum Votey pagoda,

  • Gov’t continues China tilt as ties with the US slide on ‘interference’ in Kingdom’s internal affairs

    CHINA has granted some $131 million in aid to the Cambodian military. It comes as yet another sign that the Kingdom is strengthening strategic ties with its Asian neighbour to counter increasingly cold relations with the United States. The aid was announced as part of a