The Ministry of Interior is giving 30 hectares of land to a well-connected development company in exchange for a smaller piece of land on the southern outskirts of Phnom Penh.
The land swap, announced in a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on January 18, means that ING Holdings will give up 10 hectares of land in its “Choeung Ek satellite town” in exchange for 30 hectares of land stretching across Meanchey, Dangkor and Takhmao districts.
ING Holdings, owned by tycoon Lim Bunsour, is developing a massive satellite city on more than 2,500 hectares of land in the Boeung Tumpun and Choeung Ek wetlands, despite facing protests from displaced villagers.
When reached yesterday, Ministry of Land Management spokesman Seng Lot said reporters “should talk to the ministry that requested” the swap.
However, Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak said he had “no information on that”, and that he did not know who at the ministry would have more information.
Simon Vancliff, director of development at ING Holdings, also declined to speak about the swap yesterday, stating, “We have no comment, and it is Sunday.”
Land swaps between the government and private companies have frequently been criticised for the opportunity they pose for corruption as government offices are moved far from the city centre so that companies can develop the valuable land they occupied.
It was not clear yesterday what the ministry planned to do with the land it swapped with ING Holdings.
In a report last week, however, the ministry did mention it is planning to build four facilities on “a 10-hectare plot of land located in Choeung Ek”, including the central offices of the National Police, offices for the General Department of Identification, a hospital and an administrative school.