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SOS villagers demand ACU probe district gov

Kao Sovann, deputy leader of a Phnom Penh airport community, talks to the media yesterday outside the ACU headquarters.
Kao Sovann, deputy leader of a Phnom Penh airport community, talks to the media yesterday outside the ACU headquarters. Hong Menea

SOS villagers demand ACU probe district gov

About 40 members of the “SOS” airport community gathered in front of Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) headquarters yesterday to demand an investigation into Por Sen Chey District Governor Hem Darith.

Darith has forbidden community members from building new houses or altering land ownership in the long-disputed area, said Kao Sovann, deputy leader of the community.

According to a letter issued by the Council of Ministers, permission must be granted to construct new buildings or modify the land around the airport. But residents say the governor is violating the law by not even considering their requests.

ACU chief Om Yentieng said his unit plans to look into the complaint as soon as possible. Residents, meanwhile, say they’ll give the ACU three weeks to respond to their complaint before they petition the Council of Ministers.

“This is the first time we come to the ACU for help,” said Sovann. “If the ACU cannot deal with this issue and tell us whether it is related to corruption, that means the ACU is incompetent.”

Khoc Chanday, a 48-year-old community member, said the district governor refused her request to put her land title in her daughter’s name. Darith, however, said the decision-making responsibility lies with the district land office, not with him.

Area residents have frequently protested airport expansion plans that would displace them. Last month, a government minister informed them those plans had been shelved in favour of building a new airport.

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