Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Borei Keila protesters shout down panel

Borei Keila protesters shout down panel

Former Borei Keila residents hold a sign in protest yesterday ahead of a meeting of the joint committee responsible for providing housing solutions to the displaced villagers.
Former Borei Keila residents hold a sign in protest yesterday ahead of a meeting of the joint committee responsible for providing housing solutions to the displaced villagers. Pha Lina

Borei Keila protesters shout down panel

Five shouting protesters yesterday morning shut down a meeting of the joint committee for housing solutions in Borei Keila before it could sign cash compensation deals with 56 evicted families.

After a long and contentious land dispute, 56 families were set to sign contracts that – depending on the strength of their claim to their former Borei Keila properties – would entitle them to either $3,000 in compensation or a choice between $5,000 in compensation or new homes at a resettlement site.

However, a handful of other former residents who had been offered the latter deal and refused, began to protest shortly after the meeting started.

“I will die here if I do not receive a house in Borei Keila!” screamed Phork Sophin, one of the demonstrators.

Soam Somaly, another former Borei Keila resident, also raised her voice. “It is very unfair! I have enough documents to get a house in Borei Keila but the committee evaluated me to receive the house in Andong community.

I will not go!” Three other women then lifted a banner with a message opposing the committee’s decisions: “We want the solution to be a house in Borei Keila, not in Andong village.”

At that point, those who had turned out to complete their paperwork also began yelling and pushing the women in an effort to thumbprint the committee’s compensation claims documents. The protesters stood their ground and pushed back.

When the tension hit a fever pitch, Mean Chanyada, administration director of City Hall and head of the joint committee, shut down the meeting for of fear of possible violence. He said the event would resume at 9am today at the 7 Makara district hall.

“We could not continue working with problems like this,” said Chanyada.

But the families who agreed to the cash deals, most of whom are garment and electronics factory workers and private company staffers, insisted on a solution yesterday evening as they had asked for only one day off at work.

If they missed another day, their bonus incentives would be lost, they said.

“I asked for only one day off to join the program since I agreed to accept the joint committee’s evaluation,” said Brak Sinat, 33, who works at Nissey Cambodia in Bavet. “If they want to keep protesting, it is their right, but we do not want to protest anymore.”

Sia Phearum, secretariat director of the Housing Rights Task Force, and a member of joint committee, expressed his disappointment about the protesters’ actions.

“We understand their feeling that the committee’s evaluation lacks transparency, but they should not protest against the villagers who decided to accept the evaluation,” he said. “They have the right to file a complaint.”

The five protesters did not say whether they would try to interrupt another meeting.

Among the 56 families that agreed to accept the committee’s evaluation, 40 were set to receive $3,000 for losing their homes. The other 16, who had documents proving their Borei Keila property claims, had been given a choice between $5,000 or new houses in Andong.

A total of 85 families, including the holdouts, were deemed eligible to receive $5,000 or alternative housing, and 40 were eligible to receive $3,000. Only 35 people were ruled eligible to remain in Borei Keila.

On January 3, 2012, police and security forces from the Phanimex company evicted hundreds of families from the Borei Keila area. While 10 apartment buildings were promised to house the displaced, only eight were built, leaving many homeless and living in squalid conditions.

Additional reporting by Igor Kossov


  • Hungarian exposes 90 to Covid in Siem Reap

    The Ministry of Health has discovered 90 people who have been exposed directly or indirectly to a Hungarian man infected with Covid-19. They all are required to quarantine at home and the hospital. The ministry is searching for other affected people. Among the 90, one is the

  • PM warns of ‘new Cold War’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the possibility of a so-called new Cold War has become a significant concern and that all countries have to reject outright, any attempt to allow history to tragically repeat itself. He made the remarks in a speech during 75th Session

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • ‘Bad news is an investor’s best friend’ – unlocking investment potential in Cambodia

    It is time to shop. Economic woes provide good pickings for investors if they know where to look The poem If, written by English Nobel laureate poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling for his son circa 1895, is widely perceived as fatherly advice for John who would

  • Cambodia, CRF win rice battle in EU Court

    The European General Court has rejected the European Commission’s (EC) request to reject a complaint submitted by Cambodia and the Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF) regarding the EU’s reintroduction of tariffs on Indica rice exports from Cambodia. A court order uploaded to the European

  • PM requests Russia’s Covid vaccine

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that Russia provide Cambodia with its Covid-19 vaccine after the former announced it planned on mass vaccinating its population next month. The request came on Thursday through the prime minister’s Facebook page as he met with Anatoly Borovik,