Villagers call authority’s restrictions on new construction unclear and arbitrary.
Siem Reap Province
LAWMAKERS are calling on the Apsara Authority to clarify construction restrictions for homes in Angkor Thom district, as residents of the district gathered at a public forum to complain that the rules were unclear and seemed to be applied selectively.
More than 100 villagers and lawmakers from three parties – the Human Rights and Nationalist parties and Funcinpec – attended the forum in Leang Dai commune, which was convened by the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights.
Sao Rany, a National Assembly member from the Nationalist Party, said villagers living on land over which the Apsara Authority has jurisdiction would be doomed to live in poverty if they were not allowed to construct chicken or pig cages. Several villagers in the district complained that the Apsara Authority had deemed such “additions” illegal.
“How can they develop if they cannot build chicken cages and pig [enclosures]?” Sao Rany said.
Funcinpec Party lawmaker Kuch Mony said a more fundamental problem was that the restrictions set by the Apsara Authority had not been clearly explained to those affected by them.
He called on the body to hold an educational workshop so that future disputes over the construction of buildings did not lead to violence.
Apsara Authority officials said earlier this month that they planned to file a complaint against villagers who tried to prevent the destruction of an illegally built home in Kokchak commune, and that the residents had threatened workers and damaged government property during their protest.
“I am a lawmaker, and I do not understand Apsara’s law,” Kuch Moly said.
“They are villagers. How do they know?”
Suon Bunthoeun, who organised the forum for CCHR, said he had invited Apsara Authority officials to attend the forum but had not received a response from the organisation. Bun Narith, Apsara’s director general, could not be reached for comment.