Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - City market owners tussle over 27 stalls

City market owners tussle over 27 stalls

City market owners tussle over 27 stalls

Vendors at Phnom Penh's O'Russei market are contesting a Phnom Penh municipal court

decision ordering the seizure of their shops, and have written to the Supreme Council

of Magistracy asking that the judge responsible for the ruling be punished.

On October 3, a group of 27 O'Russei market vendors filed a complaint at the Phnom

Penh municipal court against Judge Kem Ravy's decision ordering the confiscation

of their shops.

The vendors, who do not want to be named, said the real problem was an internal dispute

amongst the partners of the Hui Seng Development Construction Co Ltd, which owns

O'Russei market.

They said the court did not investigate properly or invite the vendors for questioning

before judgment. They have written to the Supreme Council of Magistracy asking it

to punish Ravy.

"They [the owners] filed complaints about each other," one vendor told

the Post on October 10. "Why would the court want to confiscate my store? I

bought it legally, recognized by the authorities. The vendors did not owe the company

even a riel."

The vendor said that before the stores were leased, the Hui Seng company owner had

advertised for months that they were to be let on 70-year contracts, and the shop

licenses were issued by City Hall.

Contacted by phone on October 12, Judge Ravy said he was busy at a seminar, then

hung up the phone.

On November 10, 2004, Xie Xiang Rong, 53, the 50-percent owner of Hui Seng Development

Construction, filed a complaint against the other half-owner Wei Bing Qing, 62, and

his assistant An Dao Ping, 36, accusing them of committing breach of trust on September

21, 2004.

On September 22, 2005, Kem Ravy, Phnom Penh Municipal Court presiding judge, ruled

in favor of Xie Xiang Rong, and sentenced both Wei Bing Qing and An Dao Ping to four

years in prison. He also ordered the confiscation of 27 shops within the O'Russei

market building and their return to Hui Seng Development Construction.

Both the accused, Wei Bing Qing and An Dao Ping, were tried in absentia. Their lawyer,

Poeung Thyda, declined comment.

Lawyer Douk Tipana, representing Xie Xiang Rong, said his client accused Wei Bing

Qing and An Dao Ping of conspiring to sell the 27 stores without the agreement of

his client, the other 50 percent shareholder.

Tipana, when told by the Post of the 27 vendors' argument, said he would discuss

with his client the re-inspection of which stores were bought legally and which were

involved in a conspiracy.

"I think those vendors should meet up with the company and discuss finding a

solution," Tipana said. "If they bought their shops legally, the company

will compensate itself from the offending shareholder's capital, and not seize the

shop."

Kieng Leak, chief of O'Russei market, said Hui Seng Development Construction, a Chinese

company, built the market in 2000 jointly with a Taiwanese firm, Grant Construction.

Leak said the 27 disputed stalls are on the south side of the market. He said they

bought the leases from the company in 2003 and 2004 for between $10,000 and $40,000

each.

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