A senior Phnom Penh municipal official recommended Wednesday that the Interior Ministry should evict police officials living next to Preah Monivong Hospital, while police officials living on the site said 53 of them have been told to leave their homes by Sept 27.
For several months, 168 families living in the community built along the hospital’s northern boundary have been trying to avoid eviction from the Interior Ministry-owned site—which has been reportedly traded to private business and is earmarked for redevelopment.
“The ministry should [move the police] as an example,” Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Pa Socheatevong said.
He added that no date has been set to evict residents living on the site who are not employed by the ministry, but said that would be “the second step.”
Earlier this year, the residents submitted their own detailed plans to redevelop the site and keep the existing community intact.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak was too busy to speak to a reporter Wednesday.
At the site, resident officers said that they met with a senior police official at the Ministry of Interior on Tuesday, who told them that they had to move.
The officers showed a letter summoning them to the meeting signed by National Police Commissioner Hok Lundy.
At the meeting, police “said there were two options: Accept money or accept land,” said one officer living at the site, who asked not to be identified.
Two hectares of land, in a still-to-be-determined area, or $1,000 were offered to each family as compensation, regardless of the size of the family or the value of their house in the city, residents said.
“If we don’t abide by the order, we will lose everything,” the officer claimed. “We will get no money, no land and we will lose our jobs.”
Several of the officers’ wives said that if the Interior Ministry forces the men to move, they will divorce their husbands so they can stay on the land.
“I make my own income,” said Bun Thoeun, 37, adding that her husband “can go.”
One police officer said he had lost faith in the government. After devoting 20 years of his life to the country, he was now being thrown out of his home, he said.
“We worked for the nation, but the nation does not help us,” he said, adding that authorities were trying to divide the residents so they will be easier to evict.
“They try to break us up,” he said.