Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - A more personal Boeung Kak dispute makes airwaves

A more personal Boeung Kak dispute makes airwaves

Boeung Kak lake activists clash with police during a demonstration
Boeung Kak lake activists clash with police during a demonstration in Phnom Penh’s Hun Sen park last week. HENG CHIVOAN

A more personal Boeung Kak dispute makes airwaves

IN THE past few years, the explosive events at Boeung Kak lake – including violent evictions and arrests – have gone largely unreported outside the Kingdom’s independent media outlets.

But during the past week, things have changed.

Outspoken community representative Tep Vanny has been under attack from her fellow Boeung Kak residents, who have accused her of corruption and even “Pol Pot-like behaviour” – and Cambodia’s televisions stations have taken a sudden interest.

A number of stations, seen as heavily aligned with the government, have been broadcasting frank criticism of Vanny, including lengthy excerpts of a press conference led by her former cellmates in Prey Sar prison, Heng Mom and Tol Srey Pov.

The Council of Ministers’ Press and Quick Reaction Unit, too, has been covering the schism – at least from the point of view of Vanny’s critics.

On Saturday, the government website ran a press release from residents including Srey Pov and Mom, along with no fewer than 24 photos of the group speaking to journalists and lodging petitions with foreign embassies.

In the statement, Vanny is accused of inciting violent protests, pocketing donations and ordering evictees to burn themselves for attention.

“Tep Vanny is a selfish woman who regards herself as an authoritarian protest leader and does not concern about the common interest with behaviour like Pol Pot,” the statement says.

Press and Quick Reaction Unit spokesman Tith Sothea was not available for comment yesterday, while Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said he wasn’t able to comment on PQRU matters.

After videos were posted on YouTube of disgruntled Boeung Kak residents accusing Vanny of corruption, the activist called a press conference on Thursday to deny allegations, during which she questioned the news judgment of local television producers.

“Thousands of villagers have been evicted . . . some have been arrested when marching for a solution. But state television and radio stations have not covered these events – nor have private stations,” she said.

Heng Mom said Vanny was “working on behalf of the opposition party and her own benefit, not ours”.

“Vanny always accuses us of selling out to the CPP, but we haven’t,” she said.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Dire consequences’ from sanctions, warns AmCham

    American businesspeople in Cambodia have warned that any sanction against the Kingdom would have “dire consequences” that could push Cambodia even further into the arms of China. In a letter to US senators and representatives dated Monday, the American Chamber of Commerce Cambodia (AmCham) said

  • Protests planned in New York as Hun Sen to attend the UN

    Prime Minister Hun Sen will speak at the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week. But US-based supporters of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) plan to throw eggs at his car as part of a series of protests to coincide

  • CPP: ‘Behave or Sokha suffers’

    The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) spokesman warned Kem Monovithya on Thursday that her attempt to damage “national reputation and prestige” would lead to her father, Kem Sokha, receiving even harsher punishment. Sok Eysan issued the warning as Monovithya, who is the court dissolved

  • Preah Sihanouk beach developments halted

    After receiving an order from Hun Sen, Minister of Land Management Chea Sophara led a team of experts and relevant officials to Sihanoukville to call a halt to the illegal development of a beach. The prime minister ordered the Prek Treng beach in Otres commune