STORES in Phnom Penh’s new City Mall Shopping Centre closed their doors on Thursday, one day after the mall’s manager skipped out on scheduled talks with more than 100 vendors protesting rent prices they called too high for the current economic climate.
“We waited for them until late in the evening, but they did not appear to meet us,” 34-year-old vendor Huot Chanleng said. “We will stay closed until there are discussions with the owner about our requests. Otherwise, we will seek intervention from City Hall or the prime minister next.”
Vendors held a protest inside the mall on Wednesday, demanding that its director, Lee Hsieh Yu, meet them face to face to address their demands. As the hours of waiting stretched on, one protester who had been shouting into a loudspeaker said he was attacked by one of the mall’s Taiwanese staff members, who reportedly tore the man’s shirt.
In a document submitted to the mall, which is owned by Taiwan’s Fu Yang Investment Co, 134 vendors thumb-printed a list of 18 topics. The requests include an immediate three-month rent holiday, followed by a 40 percent reduction in rental fees from January 2010 until whenever the country recovers from the economic crisis.
Vendors also demanded that owners do more to advertise the mall in the media in order to bring in more customers.
Lee Hsieh Yu said Thursday that the meeting would be delayed “until next Wednesday”.