Lake Residents Protest Outside Company Office

About 30 Boeng Kak lake residents were involved in a scuffle with municipal intervention police yesterday outside the office of Shukaku Inc, the developer filling in the lake, as residents held a protest to demand compensation they claim the company promised them.

Twenty-four families from Village 1 gathered in front of the company’s office at the lake yesterday morning to demand about $8,500 they claim Shukaku agreed to give them in 2009.

At about 9:30 am, intervention police arrived on the scene and tore up a homemade banner some residents had been holding. Police then attempted to confiscate banners from other villagers, who resisted.

No one was reported injured as a result of the confrontation, although one woman, 48-year-old Meas Daneth, fainted during the protest.

“Police took our banners. They also pushed us women until we fell to the ground,” said Var Sophea, 25.

Municipal police chief Touch Naruth could not be reached yesterday, while Daun Penh district governor Sok Sambath declined to comment.

The protest ended at about 5 pm yesterday when deputy district governor Sok Penhvuth met with the protesters and asked them to contact their district office today for further details, villager representative Chan Puthisak said.

Earlier in the morning, the protesters joined about 100 other Boeng Kak residents to light incense at a spirit house located near Shukaku’s office.

“We prayed to the spirit to help us to appease the company so they will let us live in our houses, or…to give us reasonable compensation,” said Village 1 resident Heng Mom.

Municipal authorities released a statement claiming that more than 2,000 families have accepted one of the three proposed compensation packages, and urging other residents to do the same.

However, those living on the lake’s shore will now have to wait to negotiate compensation until the Council for the Development of Cambodia approves Shukaku’s master plan for the area, the statement read.

Authorities claim families illegally occupied the land around the lake in 1993.

“In 1993 people started to occupy and construct temporary buildings, which were not of the right standard and made Boeng Kak disorderly,” the statement read.


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