Minister Tells White Building Residents to End Negotiations

The Land Management Minister informed residents of Phnom Penh’s White Building on Friday that they should end compensation negotiations and accept the offer from the Japanese developer that plans to flatten the iconic housing complex.  

The government and nearly 500 families have been unable to reach an agreement over compensation for their homes, with residents seeking $2,000 per square meter, and the developer, Arakawa, offering $1,400 per sq m.

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Land Management Minister Chea Sophara talks to residents of Phnom Penh’s White Building on Friday. (Siv Channa/ The Cambodia Daily)

Addressing around 200 families at the Land Management Ministry on Friday morning, Minister Chea Sophara said they should settle for $600 per sq m less than their target. He had previously told them Arakawa would agree to just $1,100 or $1,260 per sq m, depending on the size of their apartments.

“This is the last time for negotiation. It’s time to make a decision for all 493 families to leave, but it depends on all of you brothers and sisters to accept the money,” Mr. Sophara said.

“If three families remain, we can’t knock down the building,” he added.

Despite the minister’s plea, numerous residents continued negotiating during the four hour meeting.

“I will stop having meetings talking about the White Building, starting from today,” the minister replied.

The residents can start moving out on June 6, but no deadline was set for all families to agree to a deal, he said.

Resident Mok Sokunthea was unwilling to accept the deal, saying residents on the lower floors own less than 20 sq m each, in comparison to around 45 square meters on the higher levels. She said residents hoped the minister would reconsider the price “for those with little.”

“It’s not fair for people who have a house on the ground floor,” she said. “I’s smaller than upstairs.”

A spokesman for the ministry could not be reached to confirm how many families had agreed to the deal.

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