THE owners of businesses and houses on Otres beach in Preah Sihanouk province have vowed to protest a decision by provincial authorities that would require them to vacate their property by the end of the month.
About 100 people stand to be affected by the move, which was announced at a meeting on Saturday, according to some of the residents and business owners.
Some of these vendors just make [otres beach] look dirty.
Rory Sheffield, who owns a guesthouse and bar on Otres beach, said he had been aware when he signed his lease three months ago that the authorities would be within their legal rights to appropriate the land, but he said he had been told by officials that no such action would be taken for at least five years.
“If they want to stop the businesses here, they should stop issuing the business licences and phase it out,” he said Tuesday. “They can’t take all our money and then just say, ‘OK, one month’.”
Another local businessman, Rainer Deyhle, who recently opened Cinderella’s Beach Bar on Otres beach, said the authorities had renewed his business licence just two weeks before. He vowed to take the fight global.
“I’m going to inform the German press, my neighbours are going to inform the American and English press, and we will tell everyone that Cambodia is not a trustworthy place,” he said. “We are going to make a big deal out of this.”
He said the authorities had told those present at the meeting that they planned to build a garden on the beach, adding that he was mystified by the prospect of a garden planted in the sand.
Sihanoukville Governor Chin Sarin said Tuesday that he was uninterested in the complaints of residents and business owners, and vowed that the authorities would press on with their plans.
“No one can reject this decision,” he said. “The government wants to make a new public garden to attract tourism, and some of these vendors just make the beach look dirty. All the vendors have to move this month.”
Sok Heng, a vendor, said he was concerned that he and his colleagues could lose their only source of income, adding that he planned to organise a protest outside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s home in Takhmao.
“We have no contract with the government because the state owns the beach and can do whatever they want, but we want to appeal to the government,” he said.