The Interior Ministry on Tuesday postponed the eviction of 168 families from a squatter community next to Phnom Penh’s state-run Preah Monivong Hospital until March 30 at the latest, according to a letter delivered to the squatters Tuesday.
On Monday, General Say Lor, director of the Ministry’s Health Department, had said the families would be evicted from the Monivong community, located near Phsar Thmei, on Tuesday.
But instead, squatters were presented with the letter, which was dated Feb 18, notifying them they would be cleared out by March 30.
“The Ministry of Interior…must clean the anarchic residence in the…[h]ospital compound for better public order inside the hospital because it belongs to the state,” according to the letter, signed by General Dul Koeun, deputy national police chief.
If squatters do not move of their own accord, a committee—established by the ministry to hold talks with the Royal Group family of companies about finding a new location for the hospital—“will take action to remove the houses without taking responsibility for damage done to your property,” the letter warned.
Say Lor barred reporters from a meeting Tuesday between ministry officials and squatter representatives and later could not be reached by phone.
Kit Meng, Royal Group chairman, declined to speak to a reporter on Tuesday.
Ministry of Interior officials on Tuesday offered $1,000 to big families and $500 to smaller families in return for their land, but the offer was turned down, Sean Soeung, a squatter representative said.
“We will not allow them to take our houses,” he said. “They said they want to extend and repair the hospital. We don’t believe it.”
Lower ranking hospital staff were reluctant to comment on the proposed extension. “There’s not enough equipment” in the current hospital, one member of staff who asked not to be named said.