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

  • Tourists urged not to skip trip

    The Ministry of Tourism has called on international tourists not to cancel trips to Cambodia, but urged them to adhere to several dos and don’ts when arriving in the Kingdom during the Covid-19 pandemic. The ministry released an eight-point instruction manual on Wednesday published

  • The taxman cometh – Cambodia’s capital gains tax casts the net on individual taxpayers

    In a country where only limited personal income tax existed, the new taxation law beginning January 1, 2021, will make taxpayers out of Cambodians, whether they are ready for it or not About two years ago, a little known amendment was made to Article 7 of the Law

  • Cambodian-American gets Star Trek treatment

    Kevin Ung, a Cambodian-American whose family escaped genocide during the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror, was recently selected from thousands of applicants to participate in the Television Academy Foundation’s inaugural 2020 Star Trek Command Training Programme, a course intended to give hands-on filmmaking experience

  • Cambodia seeks to be transport hub

    Cambodia is working on several fronts to modernise its transport infrastructure and services, concentrating on opening new international gates to relieve and balance traffic congestion at its borders, Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said on Thursday. This is part of the Kingdom’

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • Singapore Fintech start-up enters Sihanoukville

    Singapore-based fintech start-up Fincy on Wednesday announced the expansion of its cashless payment system to Sihanoukville to tap into the southwestern coastal city’s ever-widening business and investment landscape. The move is in line with the National Bank of Cambodia’s (NBC’s) recommendations to