Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Poor ‘lack voice’ amid urban growth

Poor ‘lack voice’ amid urban growth

A man eats lunch opposite his residence in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district earlier this year as cranes loom over large development sites close by.
A man eats lunch opposite his residence in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district earlier this year as cranes loom over large development sites close by. Pha Lina

Poor ‘lack voice’ amid urban growth

Phnom Penh’s lack of a clear master plan for development has hurt its communities and allowed private developers to collude with authorities to push out poorer residents, speakers at a land rights conference said yesterday.

Ee Sarom, executive director of STT – which hosted the conference in conjunction with the Czech NGO People in Need – said that as Phnom Penh experiences dramatic growth, local communities have been shut out of commenting on development that may affect them.

“So far, there is no city master plan with the participation or acceptance from the people,” he said. In the meantime, he added, forced evictions are rampant, affecting people in communities across the city.

“Some community members were physically abused and jailed like in Boeung Kak and Borei Keila,” Sarom added. “It also led to inappropriate compensation for the people and it just made them become even poorer.”

Piotr Sasin, country director for People in Need, echoed these comments, saying that Phnom Penh was becoming a city for the privileged, with the most attractive parts of the city sold off to private developers.

Ses Sok Kosal, deputy director of legal affairs and human rights at City Hall, who participated in the conference, admitted that there is no clear master plan.

The city has created a development plan for the northern part of Phnom Penh, which has been submitted to the Council of Ministers but not yet signed.

“If there is no adoption [of a master plan] yet, we cannot say that it is incorrect when people develop in this or that location,” he said.

Sarun Rithea, a spokesman with the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, said that his ministry is in talks with City Hall over a master zoning plan for Phnom Penh, which would last through 2035.

He said that this plan may be finalised before the end of the year, but did not say whether it would allow local residents to comment on future development.

Keurt Sareth, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Land Management, said that the current building approvals process doesn’t explicitly call for public comments.

He added that while he personally believes in public comments for large construction projects, holding them for every development of any size would be counterproductive.

MOST VIEWED

  • Police seek arrest of Chinese ‘gang’

    Cambodian police remain on the lookout for 20 Chinese nationals who earlier this month posted a video clip threatening to stoke insecurity in Preah Sihanouk province, though the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh maintained the group posed no threats to Cambodia’s national security. National Police

  • Man arrested for fake PM endorsement

    The owner of currency exchange company GCG Asia Co Ltd was temporarily detained by the court yesterday for attempted fraud after Prime Minister Hun Sen reacted to the company using his name and pictures to allege his endorsement of the firm. Phnom Penh Municipal Court

  • Sihanoukville authority orders structure dismantled

    The Preah Sihanouk provincial administration has ordered owners of two unauthorised construction sites to immediately dismantle them and warned of legal action if the owners failed to comply. Ly Chet Niyom, development management and construction bureau chief at the provincial hall, told The Post on

  • Rapper deletes song critical of Cambodian social issues

    A young musician has deleted from Facebook and YouTube a rap song that was critical of Cambodia’s social issues and announced that he will stop singing the song after officials visited his home in Siem Reap province and allegedly gave him a warning. Provincial