Hun Sen’s Cabinet Builds Shelters for Protesters

Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cabinet has constructed three large makeshift shelters near the premier’s home in Kandal province’s Takhmau town to accommodate the hundreds of protesters who come from far away to seek his help, officials said.

Lim Leang Se, deputy chief of Hun Sen’s cabinet, said by telephone Friday that the shelters were set up last week to provide protesters with shade from the sun and coverage when it rains.

“Whenever they have problems, they come here to seek help from their leader,” he said, adding that two tents are for shelter and the third is to be used as a kitchen area by the protesters.

Touch Ratha, a representative from the Dey Krahorm community in central Phnom Penh, which has been mired in an ongoing land dispute with developer 7NG, said she traveled approximately 20 km to the premier’s house Friday and appreciated the shelters.

“I am quite appreciative of Samdech Hun Sen’s cabinet officials who built the tents and welcomed us,” she said, adding that she suspects the main reason they were erected was to keep the protesters out of view.

“I doubt these officials are purely trying to help. They just try to get us out of the way to make the streets clean,” she said.

About 100 people were sleeping under the shelters from as far away as Oddar Meanchey province’s Anlong Veng district, she said.

Lim Lykeang, a protester from Phnom Penh’s Group 78, another area in Tonle Bassac commune threatened with eviction, said the tents are about 5 by 10 meters each and have been pitched in an area that is out of sight and surrounded by high fences about 100 meters from the premier’s home.

SRP Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang said the tents are a ploy to win votes.

“If the ruling party that has been in power for more than 30 years really wants to help villagers, it does not need to build tents,” he said.

“They only need to conduct an investigation and offer a reasonable resolution addressing the villagers’ complaints,” he added.

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