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Businesswoman calls on government to get land back

Businesswoman calls on government to get land back

High-profile Phnom Penh businesswoman Chhin Sokountheary has called on Prime Minister Hun Sen to return 33 hectares of prime land in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district to her company, which lost the rights to it when the government claimed the land in July.

Sokountheary said she purchased the 34 hectares from villagers in the north of Pong Peay lake – in Phnom Penh Thmey commune – in 1979, and for the past 13 years, her company Layimex Holding Group has had control of the property.

The group was still awaiting a complete land licence – so-called hard plans – that would allow it to build schools, markets, hospitals and health clubs, developments in keeping with the government’s own poverty reduction goals, Sokountheary claims, when a governent sub-decree claimed all but one of the 34 hectares as state property.

The July 10 order, signed by Hun Sen, claimed land around the Pong Peay lake area, covering three communes in Sen Sok and Russey Keo districts, as a part of the Ministry of Water Resources’ flood protection policy.

Sokountheary said measurement experts from the Ministry of Land Management and Construction came to measure the area on August 29 and the next day Layimex excavators and workers were blocked by Phnom Penh Municipal Authority, while clearing land. Sokountheary was accused of deliberately obstructing the land measurers.

According to Sokountheary, a Ministry of Water Resources survey of land was incorrect.

Long Dimanche, spokesman for Phnom Penh Municipal Hall, said that he was unaware Sokountheary’s lands were affected, because the sub-decree was based on a request to limit Pong Peay Lake prepared by Ministry of Water Resources on July 2.

Minister of Water Resources Lim Kean Hor, and Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema could not be reached for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at [email protected]