Though eight guesthouses—one co-owned by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s brother Hun San—no longer face immediate eviction from Sihanoukville’s Serendipity Beach, Hun San vowed on Sunday to lobby on behalf of some 131 families who may still lose their homes in a heated land dispute.
“I will continue to help the poor who have no land to settle,” Hun San said by phone. “When there is war, the rich leave…and the poor carry the guns.”
“I will follow the CPP’s policy of ‘poverty reduction.’ I do not act for myself alone but find justice for the poor too,” he said.
Officials in Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville confirmed on Sunday that the prime minister’s Cabinet had overturned an order that would have evicted the eight guesthouses from the beach today. But the fate of the families remains unclear.
Bun Kheng, an adviser to Hun Sen, said the premier’s office overturned the eviction order for the guesthouses on Friday.
He said that all existing documentation would be examined and a delegation from the Ministry of Land Management would be sent to survey the disputed area.
His comments ran counter to claims made by O’Chheuteal beach Military Police officer Kong Sun on Saturday that Hun Sen’s office had ordered the Sihanoukville municipality to issue new land titles, granting ownership of one portion of land to the guesthouse owners and another to Kong Triv, whose Pacific Group had laid claim to the entire area.
First Deputy Governor of Sihanoukville Chhun Sarun confirmed Sunday that he had received the order to cancel the eviction.
“I will follow the instructions of the higher level,” Chhun Sarun said.
Sihanoukville Deputy Police Chief Seang Kosal said Sunday that police had not yet received the cancellation order.
“There has been final no word to go ahead with the eviction order or a new order to cancel it,” Seang Kosal said, adding that he did not know who owned the land.