muk kampul district, Kandal Province – Police carrying electric batons tried to block vendors from setting up shop Thursday morning in a tense dispute between the owners of two local markets.
Vendors got in shoving matches and argued with district police and military police who tried to prevent them from entering Phsar Thmey Preak Anchanh, a new market that opened last year and has driven business out of the older Phsar Preak Anchanh in Krom village, Prek Anchanh commune.
Police erected a barbed wire fence around the new market on Wednesday night but dismantled it in the morning. Vendors were later allowed to resume business at the new market after Kandal First Deputy Provincial Governor Kim Bo called district police.
“You can see the posts and wire that police brought to block my market,” said Soeur Chheng Uon, 53, who owns the new market. “It was lucky for me that there was intervention from Kim Bo. He ordered police to stop…because he wants both markets to be open for business.”
The old market belongs to the district’s governor, Uor Chev, who says the new market is operating without a license and wants vendors to return to their former stalls at his market.
Soeur Chheng Uon, however, said the new market is fully licensed by the Commerce Ministry and only lacks permission from the Ministry of Interior.
Attorney Khov Naro, who was at the market Thursday, said district authorities were violating the law and that an Interior Ministry license was unnecessary.
Vendors said Thursday they prefer the low prices and security at the newer market, and complained about police intervention in their business.
At the new market “we feel confident that our goods won’t be stolen, because there is good security in and outside the market,” said Sovan Ny, a 32-year-old farm equipment vendor.
A vendor who identified himself as Chamroeun, 35, said, “Authorities, especially district police, should respect the law and people’s right. They should not force people to sell at markets where they don’t want to sell.”