Boeng Kak Protesters Curse Ex-City Governor

More than 30 former residents of Phnom Penh’s Boeng Kak community protested outside the National Assembly on Thursday, calling for CPP lawmaker Kep Chuktema to be removed from his post for the suffering he caused thousands of families during a decade as municipal governor.

Mr. Chuktema stepped down as governor of Phnom Penh in May 2013, shortly before a successful run for a CPP seat in parliament in the national election of July that year.

In 2007, he oversaw the eviction of hundreds of families living around what was once Boeng Kak lake, since filled in to make way for an $80-million development planned by Shukaku Inc., a company owned by CPP Senator Lao Meng Khin.

On Thursday, members of the former Boeng Kak community likened the abuses Mr. Chuktema allowed as governor to those carried out under the Khmer Rouge by notorious S-21 prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch.

“Kep Chuktema killed people during the [Prime Minister] Hun Sen regime just like Duch killed people during Pol Pot’s regime,” said 57-year-old protester Sia Nareth.

“He affected people’s happiness, he hurt people and he removed people from their land and then gave it away to people with power,” she added.

Outside the National Assembly, protesters held a Buddhist ceremony and used a variety of seasonings to curse Mr. Chuktema.

“We cursed him with hot chili and salt because he hurt a lot of people,” said Sim Sopheap, 51.

Mr. Chuktema could not be reached Thursday.

National Assembly spokesman Chheang Vun, a CPP lawmaker, said the body had no authority to remove a lawmaker.

“[It] has no right to withdraw an elected official voted [into office] by many people, just because a few of them request it,” he said, adding that he respected the Buddhist religion too much to give any credence to curses cast upon Mr. Chuktema.

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