Hun San, co-owner of a Sihanoukville guesthouse and brother of Prime Minister Hun Sen, warned Thursday that he will not move willingly if municipal authorities attempt to evict him.
Speaking by telephone, Hun San, a co-owner of Malibu Guesthouse on Serendipity Beach, said he had full legal authority to retain ownership of the guesthouse.
“I helped liberate the Khmer people from the Khmer Rouge in 1979,” he said. “I warn Kong Triv not to force people out of their houses.”
Hun San spoke in reference to Okhna Kong Triv, owner of Pacific Group company which has claimed ownership of the land where Malibu is situated, according to a copy of an eviction presented to guesthouse owners.
The notice, dated Feb 4 and signed by Sihanoukville district Governor Say Hak, followed a Sept 23 letter from the Council of Ministers to the Sihanoukville municipality ordering the eviction of eight guesthouses owners, including Hun San, and 131 families living in the area.
“My documents are lawful,” Hun San said. “I dare to be responsible before the law. Mr Kong Triv came to this area after me.”
Kong Triv said Thursday he would forge ahead with his efforts to evict the guesthouse owners and the families living in the area.
The ownership papers of the guesthouse owners “are unlawful [and] not recognized by the land title authority,” he said.
Kong Triv promised he would pay $75 and a few bags of rice in compensation to the 131 families who he says are squatting on his land.
“The place is good for tourists,” Kong Triv said. Any buildings on the land will then be demolished, and the resulting land subdivided and developed into villas, hotels and a resort, he said.
Lina Kriel, who co-owns the Malibu guesthouse with Hun San, said the pair are prepared to guard the guesthouse with a group of RCAF soldiers in order to prevent it being demolished.
“We would like Kong Triv to stop threatening us,” Lina Kriel said.
British national Patrick McGarvey, owner of Serendipity Beach’s Cloud 9 guesthouse, said he has appealed to the British Embassy to ensure he is not forcibly removed from his hotel.
“The eviction notice said the land is being cleared for ‘tourist development’ but I don’t think that the authorities in Phnom Penh are aware that there is already tourist development in the area,” he said.
Gary Benham, a spokesman at the embassy, said the embassy was formulating a response to McGarvey’s request.
Lina Kriel said she hoped her business partner’s brother will help prevent the eviction.
“I do not believe that Hun Sen would allow [the Sihanoukville Municipality] to use force to evict us,” she said.