Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Monks fight alleged overstep

Monks fight alleged overstep

Monks hold placards during a protest at the site of a housing development
Monks hold placards during a protest at the site of a housing development near Wat Kohbodhivong in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district yesterday morning. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Monks fight alleged overstep

A deputy district governor and a land tycoon are allegedly attempting to seize land deemed sacred by about 700 monks and residents who gathered yesterday in protest outside the unfinished Wat Kohbodhivong in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district.

Banner-wielding participants said that tycoon Chheang Paksour and Deputy District Governor Chea Khema are conspiring to parcel out pagoda grounds, despite the area being demarcated as sacred by the Ministry of Cults and Religion in 2006.

Locals allege that Phnom Penh-based Borey Peng Huoth’s The Star Platinum housing development is in cahoots with Paksour and Khema to build a housing project that would extend onto the sacred grounds.

“[The area] has been sacred grounds for a very long time but has yet to receive traditional rites so the pagoda committee is asking to build one,” said Peuy Meta, a chief monk, referring to a pagoda.

The construction of the apartments and villas began in 2013 and a heavy police presence had initially stopped locals from protesting, said Chhoun Sovin, deputy chief monk of Wat Kohbodhivong.

“Tycoon Chheang Paksour and Chea Khema claimed Hun Sen allowed them to develop the area so monks and villagers kept quiet,” Sovin said.

In 2009, locals triumphed over a botched relocation plan following clashes with police.

The area holds special spiritual import. According to lore, a python lived on the grounds in harmony with residents for several years, and the recent arrival of a 40-kilogram turtle was seen as propitious.

Nearly 30 monks intend to reside on the grounds until the dispute is resolved. The community has filed complaints with District Governor Ly Saveth and intends to file a complaint with Prime Minister Hun Sen. Saveth and Khema could not be reached for comment.

An employee of Borey Peng Huoth unauthorised to talk to the press said the company owned the land and construction was nearly complete.

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • Cambodia purchases 4 million Molnupiravir tablets

    Cambodia has arranged for the purchase of four million US-made Molnupiravir pills – enough to treat 100,000 Covid-19 patients – even though the current rate of daily infections in Cambodia remains low. The medicine will be distributed to state hospitals, pharmacies and private clinics, according to the Samdech

  • No more Africa travel ban but new rules for arrivals

    The Ministry of Health has decided to lift the ban on travellers from or who have travelled through 10 African countries and instead issued a set of standard operating procedures to manage passenger arrivals at Cambodia’s international airports. The 10 African countries are Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho,

  • Rise in planned flights lifts travel hopes

    Six airlines have applied to resume flights in December, while two others have put in for additional flights and routes, according to State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) head Mao Havannall on November 29. These account for 43 new weekly domestic and international flights in December, up 16

  • Is Cambodia’s travel sector in for another cheerless holiday season?

    The travel and tourism sector was heaving back to life as borders started to reopen, promising a festive vibe for the holidays and New Year. But Omicron and other Covid-related issues are threatening to close the year on a bleak note ‘Seems [like] Covid-19 won’

  • PM blasts Vietnam general over Covid claims

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on December 6 expressed dismay after Vietnamese general Hoang Xuan Chien, formerly in charge of Vietnam’s border defences, claimed that Cambodia was a source of Covid-19 transmissions to the country. Speaking at the opening ceremony for National Road 11 connecting Prey Veng