Prime Minister Hun Sen, in an attempt to settle an eight-year land dispute, on Tuesday offered additional land in the Boeng Kak lake development to the seven families who had not yet accepted compensation.
In a speech at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, Mr. Hun Sen petitioned Phnom Penh governor Khuong Sreng to resolve the issue by giving the protesting families additional land on top of what City Hall offered earlier this year.
“The sub-decree has already measured the land and some of the land still remains [unused], so please solve this for brothers and sisters,” he said.
While he was deputy governor, Mr. Sreng announced in April that City Hall would cease attempts to negotiate compensation with the seven families, after the municipality offered two plots of land to six families and four plots to the seventh family.
The land around Boeng Kak lake began to be filled with sand in 2008. About 3,000 families were caught up in the evictions, leading to one of the capital’s largest and longest-running land disputes.
In seven years of protesting, Ly Channary, a member of one of the Boeng Kak families, said she had never heard the prime minister make a direct demand for city officials to take action.
“It is time for us to get justice,” she said. “If Samdech [Mr. Hun Sen] won’t order, we will continue waiting without a suitable solution.”
Mr. Hun Sen made the offer after Hong Sokheng, a representative of the remaining families, approached the premier asking for a better life for her children and future generations.
“Since 1979, I only hoped Samdech could solve issues for our children to live in peace,” she said.
Responding to Mr. Hun Sen’s promise, City Hall spokesman Met Measpheakdey said a working group would be created to measure the unclaimed land before a meeting with the families.
Ms. Channary once owned more than 3,000 square meters, but City Hall offered her 288 square meters, she said.
“Why can’t they offer 50 percent of my land that they filled with sand?” she asked.
Sia Phearum, director of the NGO Housing Rights Task Force, said he had seen unclaimed land that could have been offered to the seven families, but without help from municipal officials, he did not know who to ask about it.
“If there is already an order but no solution, it means the management of lower level government officials is poor,” he said.