Gov’t: Property Development a Balancing Act

The government has not abandoned those facing eviction be­cause of property development, but it must walk a fine line be­tween the needs of individuals and the needs of the country, an In­terior Ministry official said Monday.

A balancing act is necessary to tackle the government’s main pri­or­ity: poverty reduction, Interior Min­istry spokesman Khieu Sop­heak said.

“To upgrade the livelihoods of the people we have to develop,” he said. “We should think of the global interest of the na­tion.”

Khieu Sopheak said the government often serves as a mediator be­tween the private companies and res­­idents and that if villagers don’t like the way negotiations go, they can always file a lawsuit against the firms.

“We have to balance the interests of the developers and residents,” he said. “But how can the authorities abandon the people?”

Last week, a UN rapporteur said the rash of land deals sweeping the country was worrisome and ac­cused the government of leaving the fates of residents to the mercies of property developers.

Miloon Kothari, special rapporteur on housing rights and adequate housing to the UN Com­mis­sion on Human Rights, also criticized individual companies—in­cluding the Mong Reththy Group, Can­adia Bank and the Roy­al Group of companies—for their actions in several controversial land deals and development projects.

Mong Reththy said Sunday he was upset by Kothari’s com­ments.

“I have always declared my deals to the public,” he said. “I have tried my best to help the government and construct the new school buildings for students.”

He accused families of extortion and said his company does not have policies to relocate people “be­cause we never think about relocating people, but whatever we have done is to help the country and gov­ern­ment.”

Suy Sophan, director of Phan­i­mex Co, also defended her company Monday, saying projects have always been publicly de­clared and are for the good of the nation.

“We always get criticism, but I don’t care because we have done nothing wrong with bribery or corruption,” she said.

Kith Meng, chairman of Royal Group, declined comment. Several Canadia Bank officials declined im­me­diate comment but said they would respond with answers to        e-mailed questions.





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