Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - TIMELINE Tracking the development of Phnom Penh's Boeung Kak lake

TIMELINE Tracking the development of Phnom Penh's Boeung Kak lake

TIMELINE Tracking the development of Phnom Penh's Boeung Kak lake

TIMELINE Tracking the development of Phnom Penh's Boeung Kak lake


1925

Boeung Kak Lake gets enclosed.
French town-planner Ernest Hebard unveils his master plan of Phnom Penh city, closing Boeung Kak off from nearby rivers and envisioning a beautiful park on the eastern shores of the lake.

1960

The 'Pearl' in the Prince’s crown
In Phnom Penh’s 1960s heyday, the lake’s eastern bank served as a green space in the very centre of the city. The first fishermen begin settling on the western edge of the lake.

1980s

Settlers move back after KR
After the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge in January 1979, refugees,  fishermen and railway staffers resettle at the lake. Boeung Kak again becomes a natural water park and public garden.

May 1989

Land ownership is recognised
The State of Cambodia ends the state monopoly on land ownership and reintroduces private property rights. In October 1992, Cambodia passes its first post-KR Land Law, regulating the new property market.

1993

A new wave of settlers
Thousands of refugees return from camps on the Thai border and settle at Boeung Kak. Tourists begin trickling into the area with the opening of “Guesthouse No 9,” the lake’s first backpacker hostel.

1994

Throwing the new settlers out
Security forces tear down huts to build on a road leading to the lake. A senior official from the Ministry of Interior says homes built by squatters will be bulldozed to make way for a zoo and public gardens.

August 2001

Defining the legal status of the lake
The passage of the new Land Law, which allows squatters to claim social land concessions if they have lived peaceably on the land for more than five years prior to 2001. 

April 2004

Once again, the lake will be a pearl
City Hall holds a design contest for the renovation of the lakeside area. The winning entrant is the "Pearl Plan", which envisions a "vast green space accessible to all". The plan retains most of the lake. 

July 2006

Municipality puts the 'pearl' on ice
Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Pa Socheatevong tells local media that all but 10 hectares of the 90-hectare lake will be filled when it is developed, more than was proposed in the "Pearl Plan". 

February 7, 2007

Shukaku Inc signs lakeside lease
A $79 million lease contract is signed between City Hall and Lao Meng Khin, Cambodian People's Party senator and the head of  an obscure local developer known as Shukaku Inc.

August 7, 2008

Change of the lake's legal status
The Council of Ministers issues a subdecree reclassifying Boeung Kak from state public land to state private land.

August 26, 2008

Sand flows in the lake
Sand-dredging firm HSC begins pumping sand into lake, and the first residents begin their exodus from the lakeside.

September 9, 2008

Residents' lawyer files injunction
A local attorney representing 120 lakeside villagers files an injunction to stop the filling of the lake. On September 22, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court Court says it has denied the request. Thomas Gam Nielsen

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