Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Stop illegal lake filling



Stop illegal lake filling

Stop illegal lake filling

Dear Editor,

After a decade of rumours, the so-called 'development' of the Boeung Kok lake area is now under way. The contract for the development was negotiated in a shroud of secrecy without even the pretense of open bidding or participation from the tens of thousands of the residents and business owners who will be directly affected. Senator Lao Meng Khin appears to have won the no-bid contract on the basis of his connections to the highest levels of the Cambodian political hierarchy.

The lease agreement that his company Shukaku Inc signed last February with the Municipality of Phnom Penh violates numerous provisions of Cambodian Land Law. The agreement calls for the filling in of Boeung Kok lake - a crucial natural reservoir for excess rainwater - which threatens to significantly worsen the flooding that Phnom Penh has already seen. An environmental impact assessment - required by law before the commencement of any major development project - has not been made public or approved by the Ministry of Environment, yet the filling of the lake has already begun. 

The senator's contract strips away the land and property rights of more than 4,000 families. The contract transfers interest in land that is already legally possessed by local families under the 2001 Land Law to a private company. While the lake itself is state public property, many surrounding families have demonstrated legal claims to their property through lawful possession. Recent precedents by the municipality and the abysmal track record of Senator Lao Meng Khin's other company Pheapimex suggest that those families who do not accept the proposed compensation or resettlement offer will be forcibly evicted.

The Kingdom of Cambodia has ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In doing so, it has committed itself to respect the right to adequate housing of its citizens and refrain from forced evictions, which are prohibited under international law.

The Cambodian government will be presenting its first report to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) this October.  It will be required to explain to the committee how it has implemented the covenant in Cambodia. Surely, the Cambodian delegation will not want to face questions from the committee about why it has permitted the Municipality of Phnom Penh to uproot the lives of more than 20,000 citizens in the name of "city beautification" and embark on the largest single displacement of people in Cambodia since the Khmer Rouge evacuated the capital city in 1975.  

It is not too late to stop this terrible mistake.  When the Boeung Kok residents file their legal complaint to halt these illegal actions, let us hope that the Cambodian judiciary surprises us for a change and defends the rule of law.        

David Pred,

Cambodia Country Director

Bridges Across Borders Southeast Asia

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • AstraZeneca jabs touch down in Phnom Penh airport

    The first shipment of 324,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/SII vaccine which was provided through the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility was delivered to Phnom Penh International Airport on March 2. The rest of the COVAX provided vaccines will arrive in Cambodia at a later date.