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Four years for lakeside

Boeung Kak residents demonstrate in Phnom Penh yesterday to commemorate the fourth anniversary of a landmark ruling over their residency.
Boeung Kak residents demonstrate in Phnom Penh yesterday to commemorate the fourth anniversary of a landmark ruling over their residency. KHOUTH SOPHAK CHAKRYA

Four years for lakeside

About 40 members of the Boeung Kak community gathered yesterday to mark the fourth anniversary of a landmark government regulation that provided land to some of those dispossessed by the lake’s filling but left many others out.

“Sub-Decree 183 gave incredible hope and suffering for all of us in the Boeung Kak area,” said Tep Vanny, a longtime activist for the community.

The lake began being pumped full of sand in 2008 to pave the way for an immense residential project, causing the displacement of thousands who lived along its borders.

In a major development, Prime Minister Hun Sen issued the sub-decree on August 11, 2011, giving away 12.44 hectares of land to 630 families in the area.

But the sub-decree did not include more than 70 families whose homes stood outside the decree’s borders, and a day after its declaration, the homes of about 100 people were demolished.
Phan Chhunret said her family still had not received any compensation from the city government.

“It has been four years already since the sub-decree was issued, but my family has not got a land certificate”, she said.

Responding to the event, City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said yesterday that authorities were “still open” to negotiating with the affected residents, but using a Khmer proverb warned them not to have unreasonable expectations.

“We cannot solve this problem. Don’t try to crap like an elephant,” he said.