Developer Makes Offer, Islanders Say

A private firm has offered residents on Koh Pich—the disputed island opposite Naga Corp Ca­sino—sums nearly double those offered by Phnom Penh Munici­pality in return for their land, residents and a lawyer said Friday.

Four island residents and a law­yer for the Public Interest Legal Ad­vo­cacy Project said residents have recently been in negotiations with the private firm, which they said has offered them between $10 to $12 per square meter instead of the $6.75 offered by the municipality.

“All residents have agreed to ac­cept the new price,” said Soch Tut, who residents say is their chief negotiator in the land dispute.

Of the 27 families remaining on the island, two holding land titles have been offered $12 per square meter by the firm, he said. Those without titles but with re­ceipts for the land have been of­fered $11, while those with no documents have been offered $10, he said.

Villagers who attended the negotiations identified the firm in question as Overseas Cam­bodian Invest­ment Corporation, which is the parent company of Canadia Bank.

Asked whether the company had been making offers for the land, Bun Khim, the manager of the OCIC Property and Real Estate de­partment, said the Koh Pich negotiations were not his responsibility.

Eang Sopheak, an attorney for the Public Interest Legal Advocacy Project, which represents 20 of the families, said the new offer is not final and will be discussed by residents at a meeting on Monday.

Some residents said they have not completely accepted the deal.

“Everyone wants $12…we will not leave unless we all get the same price,” said resident Mop Sreang.

“The residents want $12 per square meter. The company agreed secretly, but it’s not official,” resident Chum Sam Oeun said.

Pa Socheatavong, deputy municipal governor, said he had heard about the increased offer from a private firm, but said he was not fully certain that the firm would pay such a price. “If the company could afford a slight price increase to help out the villagers, that would be good and the city hall would not oppose it,” he said.

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