Phnom Penh Vendors Protest Seeking PM’s Help

Scores of vendors who were evicted from a Phnom Penh market last month protested over the weekend outside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Takhmau home calling on him to intervene in the case or build them a new market, participants in the protest said yesterday.

“We still continue to protest and request that Samdech Hun Sen help build a new market or find a solution or find another place for the vendors,” said Sam Chanthou, 48, a former owner of a hair salon at Prampi Makara district’s Sereipheap market.

The vendors were given an eviction notice dated Dec 28, ordering them vacate the market in two days, citing a municipal court order of Jan 30, 2009. On Dec 30, district police closed down the market.

Government lawyer Pal Chandara, who has been involved with the case since December 2008, said that because the market was privately owned, it would be up to the vendors to take their complaint to court.

“When they go to protest in front of Samdech’s home, they don’t have documents or anything,” he said. “After we researched the this we found it is a privately-owned market.”

“This case is a dispute that involves the contract and is between the market owner and the vendors,” he said, adding that the contract between the two groups expired in December 2008.

Tith Sopheap, 40, who owned a hair salon at Sereipheap market since 2000, said yesterday that the vendors are seeking a lawyer and will bring the matter to court.

Municipal Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun said he was unfamiliar with the case and referred questions to deputy Cabinet chief Keut Chhe, who could not be reached for comment. Lim Kim Pheng, owner of Sereipheap market, also could not be reached.

Am Sam Ath, monitoring supervisor for the local human rights organization Licadho said yesterday that the both the vendors and the market owner need to work together to find a mutually beneficial solution.


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