The Appeal Court is set to hear SRP lawmaker Son Chhay’s appeal on Friday against the Siem Reap Provincial Court’s decision ordering him to sell approximately 3 hectares of land to the Apsara Authority.
In December 2006, the Siem Reap court ruled that the property was state land and must be turned over to the Apsara Authority, which manages the Angkor Archaeological Park.
Son Chhay said Tuesday that the court had ordered him to sell the 3.14-hectare plot in Siem Reap district’s Slakram commune for just $0.50 per square meter.
Son Chhay alleged in an interview, however, that Pal Chan Dara, an attorney representing the Apsara Authority in the case, had told him to speak with Cabinet Minister and Apsara chairman Sok An to get the price boosted to $30 per square meter.
The lawmaker also claimed that in September 2006 he met with Sokimex tycoon Sok Kong, who allegedly said that he had acquired a 70-year lease for land that included the disputed property back in 2005.
Son Chhay added that a hotel is planned for the land in question.
Son Chhay also said that during the trial in December, which he lost, he told the Siem Reap provincial court that he would willingly vacate the property if it would be used for the public good, such as a school or a hospital for the poor.
“I told the Apsara Authority that the land must be for the public interest,” he said Tuesday.
“But taking the land to build hotels is not for the public
Contacted by telephone Tuesday, Pal Chan Dara denied having ever met with Son Chhay.
“I never met [Son Chhay]; I only saw him in court,” Pal Chan Dara said, adding: “The land belongs to the state, and the state has the right to lease it—this is
Apsara Authority Deputy Director General Soeung Kong said Wednesday that no lease deal has been struck with Sok Kong for the land, but he added that the government is seeking investors interested in developing the property, which he claimed has been state-owned since 1994.
“The government has issued a subdecree to have [the land] become a center for tourism and culture,” Soeung Kong said.
“The land can be used for hotels and entertainment centers related to tourism.”
An assistant to Sok Kong said that he was too busy to speak to a reporter Wednesday.