Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - White Building residents beginning to seek action after being left in the dark



White Building residents beginning to seek action after being left in the dark

White Building residents beginning to seek action after being left in the dark

Up until this week, people living in the establishment continue to claim that the official news regarding the plan to develop the iconic White Building residence remains an enigma.

The building rests in one of the most prime locations in Phnom Penh, and whose development plan rumours are frequently dispersed. As the ministry claims to be doing everything in its power to accelerate the comprehensive researching process, the minister released in dribs and drabs the identity of the investment company to be a Japanese company by the name of Arakawa.

Seng Loth, a spokesperson from the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning, and Construction (MLMUPC) said yesterday that the plan is “still in the stage of comprehensive study in order to develop the old and worn-out building. What we worry about is risking the livelihood of the building’s residents, that’s why a thorough research and study is needed to find solutions to possible problems together.”

The parties involved in this project are “from Japan – they are an investment company and had asked our ministry to lead the comprehensive research in order to figure out the development capacity of the location,” according to Loth.

Nonetheless, he refused to shed any light on the duration of the research, only claiming that “we are trying to accelerate the process.”

Chea Sophara, senior minister and the minister of the MLMUPC, said yesterday via his official Facebook page: “Today, I and my associates, including a representative from Phnom Penh City Hall met with the Japanese company Arakawa to discuss matters regarding the development project of the White Building in order to propose for advice from the Cambodian government.”

A group of elderly women idling and knitting on a hammock at a staircase within the White Building remained nonchalant when speaking to Post Property: “Before Pchum Ben, I had heard rumors about an NGO that wanted to develop the building.”

One continued, “But we were not informed by any government agent, NGO or company about any of their activities.”

“If I have to exchange [this house for money], it would have to be at least $70,000 because the other houses are way too expensive, and it is convenient living here.”

Another resident of about 60 years old, living in a two-bedroom complex on the building’s first floor had publicly requested for the authorities and the NGOs, including the investors, to hold a public forum to directly discuss the matters over together with the residents. In his opinion, “authorities and parties involved should come and speak directly with us, the very people who have lived in this place for about 30 years. They shouldn’t obscure any information from us.”

He continued, “We, the residents of the building, are afraid they might alter the number of actual residents living here. Therefore, the number keeps increasing and in the end, we become the victims.”

Sea Phearum, director of the Housing Rights Task Force (HRTF), who has worked closely for many years with the people in the White Building community said, “Indeed, the living standard of the residents in the White Building is immensely lower than the poverty living standard set by the United Nations.”

Phearum added, “Right now the officials from the HRTF Force aren’t allowed to go in and out of the building as freely as before.” There were disturbances from the basic authorities set up by the ministry, prohibiting NGOs from entering the building.

To date, the HRTF have been given estimates by the residents that there are approximately 600 families living in the White Building.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Angkor photo rules clarified

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) denied that it had banned the use of camera tripods in the Angkor Archaeological Park, explaining that the confusion stemmed from a long-standing rule which required commercial photographers and videographers to apply for permission to film. The explanation followed a

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At