A longstanding land dispute between Cambodian corporate giants Sokimex and Phanimex has been peaceably resolved following an order handed down by the government.
Both companies initially claimed ownership of the 55-plus hectares of contested land, which lie on the border between Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district and Kandal’s Kien Svay district.
As part of the resolution, the land has been divided into two equal parts by government directive, Phanimex Director General Suy Sophan said Monday.
Suy Sophan said that while she used to own the entire area, she is happy with the new terms dictated in a May 22 order issued by Kandal Provincial Governor Chhun Sirun, which bequeath her 27.7 hectares of the total 55.43 hectares.
“This conflict is completely done because we accepted the government’s order…. It was not a big deal because it did not completely cancel my ownership,” she said.
Khath Sarin, an assistant to Sokimex President Sok Kong, said Monday that his company has also accepted the order, but somewhat more begrudgingly, since Sok Kong had purchased the land legally in 1992 and the new terms of dividing the area threatens a satellite city on the site that Sokimex had been planning since 2005.
“There is no question we have to accept it, although our company bought the land in 1992,” Khath Sarin said.
The original location map, which designated the entire disputed area as belonging to Phanimex, was declared null and void in a letter signed by Chhun Sirun on Nov 19, 2007.
“In the case that the company continues to use this location map for any purpose, the company must be held accountable in front of the judicial system,” the letter stated.
A second letter signed by Council of Ministers Secretary of State Prak Sokhon on Dec 12, 2007, ordered a joint ministerial committee to find a swift resolution to the conflict between the two firms by working with municipal and provincial governors to measure and divide the disputed land into two equal parts.
Sokimex’s Boeng Chouk satellite city was planned for 235 hectares of land, a portion of which has now been handed over to Phanimex, Khath Sarin said.
As a result of the dispute, as well as other ongoing disputes with senior officials and 13 Meanchey district families respectively, Sokimex has only retained ownership of 130 hectares, though the satellite city is still on track and will ultimately boast luxury hotels, residential living, commercial buildings and a stadium, he Khath Sarin said.
He added that Sokimex has not had it adequately explained how so much of the disputed land ended up being located in Kandal province, because, he claimed, when Sokimex first acquired the property it was entirely within the jurisdiction of Phnom Penh.
Suy Sophan also said Monday that when she first acquired the disputed land it was entirely within the limits of Kandal province.
Chhun Sirun said he was too busy to speak with a reporter Monday.
Phnom Penh Deputy Municipal Governor Pa Socheatvong could not be reached for comment, nor could officials with the Ministry of Land Management.