The president of Mong Reththy Group said Tuesday that his company plans to build “modern-style” homes on what is currently the Royal University of Fine Arts campus and will not leave room for displaced residents and teachers now living at the site.
In rejecting the residents’ request that the company set aside 25 percent of the site’s land for them, Mong Reththy said they have no legal claim to the property.
“Those [families] have the right to demand, and I have the right to supply as well,” he said. “Actually, the state has never allowed those families to live on the land. Those must remove [themselves] when the state needs the land for development.”
The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has agreed to give the university’s centrally located campus to the company in exchange for the construction of a new arts campus in Russei Keo district.
Teachers and staff living on the current campus said they do not want to move.
“We are teachers and performers who have been working for many years to preserve Khmer culture,” said a teacher who identified himself only as Sun, 37. “Why does the government want us to live along the streets?”
Mong Reththy also declined to increase the amount he offered to teachers to help pay their travel costs to the new school site.
More than 400 teachers, all but two of whom do not live on campus, accepted $700 for travel expenses last month. More than 50 families, mostly of teachers and students living in the compound, are seeking $3,500 to cover their gasoline expenses for the next 10 years.