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Disputants protest at home of tycoon

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Land disputants protest in front of the home of Phan Imex Company owner Suy Sophan on Sunday. Heng Chivoan

Disputants protest at home of tycoon

About 30 people involved in the long-running land dispute in Borei Keila and Boeung Kak lake demonstrated in front of the home of Suy Sophan, the owner of the Phan Imex Company.

The demonstrators claimed the company destroyed their homes and urged it, the Phnom Penh City Hall, and related parties to resolve the matter quickly.

Phouk Sophin, a representative of the land-conflict victims of Borei Keila and Boeung Kak said more than 20 families from Borei Kiela have not received compensation.

He said they intend to continue demonstrating in front of Sophan’s house and the Council of Ministers building to demand the government intervene on their behalf.

“Our last position was to ask for $25,000 to buy land and a house to live in. However, the authorities decided that our people should live in Andong village [in Dangkor district]."

“We cannot live there. If they provide us land in another area, we would reconsider it,” Sophin said.

Sea Naret, who is caught up in the Borei Keila dispute, said people have submitted petitions to multiple government institutions over the years but have yet to see any results.

“If there are no solutions, we will continue our protest,” she added.

Phnom Penh City Hall spokesman Met Meas Pheakdey said officials have offered solutions to land disputes in the past, but City Hall can’t solve every issue to everyone’s satisfaction.

“We are providing solutions for the people of Borei Keila and Boeng Kak. Some have accepted our suggestions while others refused. City hall does not have any solutions other than what we have offered before,” Meas Pheakdey said.

Human rights group Adhoc’s spokesman Soeung Sen Karuna said in the past, the government resolved many issues. However, he said it should speed up the process for the two land disputes, lest a “chronic social disease” takes root.

“In the past, we’ve seen problems at Borei Keila and especially Boeung Kak. If we cannot put an end to these disputes, problems will continue to occur. The victims are our people,” he said.

Phan Imex owner Sophan could not be reached for comment.

In 2003, Phan Imex received rights from the government to develop the land occupied by the Borie Keila community. In return, the company promised to construct 10 high-rise building for the 1,776 families displaced by the development.

However, the company built only eight buildings and discontinued development, claiming bankruptcy.

In 2011, the government issued a sub-decree granting 12.44 hectares of land to the 700 families displaced by development on the now-filled Boeung Kok lake, but they claim nothing has come of it.

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