O’Tres Beach Business Owners Protest Eviction at PM’s House

Fifty businesspeople facing eviction from O’Tres Beach in Preah Sihanouk province protested outside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house on Friday morning.

Protesters said that police moved them to Wat Bottom park where they gathered to appeal for Mr Hun Sen’s help in preventing the closure of their businesses.

Aun Socheata, 26, the owner of a business on the beach and representative of the protestors, said Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities have threatened to evict 70 businesses at the beach including small restaurants, bars and guesthouses.

“They have given us between June 22 and June 30 to move. If we don’t move, they will clear away our beachside businesses,” Ms Socheata said, noting that the government plans to build a park on the popular beach.

Sar Kem, 40, a restaurant owner on the beach, said that she feared losing her small business where she has served food for four years on the sandy stretch, which is a twenty-minute drive from the more popular Ocheuteal Beach.

“If I don’t sell food for one day, I will not have any rice to cook,” Ms Kem said, explaining why she was asking the government for help.

A letter signed by provincial governor Sboang Sarath on June 19 gave business owners on O’Tres beach in Buon commune, Preach Sihanouk city, and Prek Treng beach in Stung Hav district until next Wednesday to leave before authorities take measures to evict them.

The government intends to start the development of a “tourist park” on 1,500 meters of O’Tres Beach to clean up the coastline, the letter said.

Provincial authorities announced the eviction in January and at the time provincial deputy governor Phay Phan said that the Lou Sokun construction company would build the park.

“That land belongs to the state so the governor has the right policy to do something,” Mr Sarath said on Friday, noting that it will only affect about 40 businesses.

“Our working group will meet to resolve why they [the owners] went to protest in front of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house,” he added.

Deputy chief of the Prime Minister’s cabinet Leang Se said that he had received a protest letter from the businesspeople but he had not yet looked at it and declined to comment any further.

 

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