Angry Boeng Kak Residents Plan Second Protest Today

Residents upset with the company that is filling in Boeng Kak lake plan to stage a second pro­test today, representatives said Thursday.

More than 200 residents who live in the 24 villages surrounding the lake said they would start demonstrating at 7 am outside the Phnom Penh office of developer Shukaku Inc.

“More villagers will go there [to the company’s office] than before [to City Hall] because they want to show the size of the impact of what they are doing,” said Be Pharom, who lives in Village 4.

The villagers will ask the company to stop pumping sand from the Tonle Sap river into the lake until a compensation agreement is reached with residents, said Noun Thon, another villager leader. The residents are demanding market-rate payments—as much as $1,500 per square meter—for the land they are being forced to move from.

This issue has been coming to a boil since early 2007, when the city penned a $79 million agreement with Shukaku Inc, whose director, CPP Senator Lao Meng Khin, is also the chairman of local land development giant Pheaphimex.

The company started filling the lake Aug 26, triggering a villager protest outside City Hall on Mon­day and a meeting with municipal, commune and village-level authorities Wednesday, but no resolution has been reached.

An attorney representing the Boeng Kak lake villagers also said he is working to file a civil complaint with the Phnom Penh Mu­ni­cipal Court.

Choung Chou Ngy said he attempted to file a complaint with the court Wednesday that asked judges to annul the $79 million development deal. However, Choung Chou Ngy said he didn’t submit his complaint as he was told that the villagers would need to pay a 50 percent tax on the $79 million figure.

“Where would the villagers get this much to pay for the tax?” he said Wednesday.

Heng Bophea, chief clerk at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, said Thursday that Choung Chou Ngy’s understanding of the tax rules was wrong, though she could not specify how much the villagers should pay if they want to lodge their complaint.

“We have a way to calculate to pay the tax,” she said. “When the amount of money is bigger and bigger, you pay smaller and smaller,” she added.

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