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

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Long way to go before Cambodia gets a ‘smart city’

    Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang will struggle to attain smart city status without adopting far reaching master plans, according to officials tasked with implementing the program. The brainchild of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the smart city program seeks to link up

  • Ministry’s plan for net sparks fears

    The government has ordered all domestic and international internet traffic in the Kingdom to pass through a Data Management Centre (DMC) that has been newly created by the state-owned Telecom Cambodia, in a move some have claimed is an attempt to censor government critics. Spokesman

  • China-Cambodia tourism forum held

    The Cambodian tourism sector must be prepared to welcome a growing number of Chinese tourists, as they lead the globe in the number of outbound travellers and were responsible for the most visitors to the Kingdom last year, the country’s tourism minister said on