One Family Settles Land Dispute, 2nd Holds Out

One of two Phnom Penh families involved in a long-running land dispute with a powerful real estate tycoon accepted the businessman’s latest compensation offer during negotiations Tuesday brokered by the Housing Rights Task Force, though the other family has continued to hold out.

The two families, who live on the same plot of land in Tuol Kok district, have come under repeated attack—including assault, attempted arson, and even having a bag of snakes lobbed into their home—as they have held out against efforts by the Khun Sear Import Export Company to buy the land. The family still resisting the buyout has blamed the attacks on the com- pany, whose security guards constantly surround the property.

On Tuesday, Sok Huch, a widow who lives on the land with seven of her nine children, said she decided to accept the company’s latest offer, but declined to name the amount.

“After negotiating, my family accepted the compensation from the company because we think the compensation is enough to buy new land,” she said.

The company has given her a week to move out, she added.

Ly Sreng Kheng, the father of the other family living on the land, however, said he still had no desire to sell to Khun Sear—for any amount.

“They tried to convince my family to sell our land to them, but we will not negotiate with them because I don’t want to leave this land,” he said. “My wife and my son fear the company, but I’m not afraid. I will not leave my land even though the other family made a deal.”

In October, a sack of venomous cobras was tossed into the house. In April, a group of men allegedly tried to set fire to the family’s kitchen. Mr. Sreng Kheng blames both incidents, and other attacks on him and his family, on Khun Sear’s guards and employees.

Representatives for Khun Sear could not be reached for comment.

Housing Rights Task Force secretariat director Sia Phearum, who arranged Tuesday’s negotiations, welcomed the settlement.

“I think this resolution is good for both sides,” he said. “If the company did not negotiate with the families, it would continue to hurt the company’s reputation.”

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