Hundreds of Vendors Protest Over Market Plans

About 300 vendors from Phnom Penh’s Phsar Doeum Kor market who gathered near Prime Minister Hun Sen’s villa on Monday to protest against plans to demolish and rebuild the market were once again told that construction would not go ahead without their consent.

Since the municipality raised the prospect of reconstructing Phsar Doeum Kor last month, vendors have made their objection known, hundreds of them pouring into City Hall on July 22 to call on authorities to hold off until their current contracts expire in 2021.

On Monday, 300-odd vendors attempted to gather in front of Mr. Hun Sen’s house, but were ordered by security guards to protest at the nearby Wat Botum park, where they were met by Pal Chandara, chairman of the committee in charge of complaints and protests in the prime minister’s cabinet.

“I talked to the municipal government: There is no plan to rebuild Phsar Doeum Kor at all until the vendors agree to it,” Mr. Chandara said. “This is my announcement, there will be no construction at Phsar Doeum Kor.”

With that, the cabinet official told the vendors to disperse and they obliged.

However, Lak Meng, 45, who runs a stall at the market selling restaurant equipment, said he did not trust Mr. Chandara.

“After meeting and listening to Pal Chandara, it seems to not be true because [the municipal government] never do what they promise,” he said, noting that many families from eviction-hit communities were still involved in land disputes.

“The authorities said something good to them, but they were just promises, there was no solution and the citizens are still suffering,” he said.

Contacted by telephone, municipal governor Pa Socheatvong said City Hall could hold off on its plan to rebuild Phsar Doeum Kor, but still wanted to clean up the market.

“We can wait until their contracts expire, but we need cooperation from them in regard to the public order, the trash and the anarchy, because the market belongs to all of us, so we have to make our market look nice,” he said.

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