Protesters Converge on Firm Buying Boeng Kak Land

Anti-eviction activists from Phnom Penh’s Boeng Kak neighborhood Monday protested in front of the local office of the Singapore-based HLH Group against its plans to buy land on a piece of Phnom Penh real estate from which some 3,000 families have been forcibly evicted.

HLH announced its intentions to buy a 1.35-hectare plot of land in Boeng Kak for nearly $15 million in June to build a condominium and shops.

But the activists say families were illegally pushed out of the homes that once stood on the land so that Senator Lao Meng Khin’s firm, Shukaku, could clear and build over it, and that any sale of the land would also break the law.

“Why don’t you ask the people before you buy land from Lao Meng Khin?” activist Nget Khun shouted toward the office, which had shuttered its doors and windows as soon as the group arrived.

“He has no right to sell the land because he does not own the land and it is in dispute. You have to stop buying the land immediately.”

A company representative took the protesters’ petition but did not respond to their concerns. HLH technical assistant Bagi Rathi declined to comment.

The company’s CEO, Johnny Ong Bee Huat, was out of the country and did not reply to an email.

In June, Mr. Ong said he did not know that the property was at the center of the country’s most high-profile land dispute and that the sale was still subject to a legal review.

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