SRP President Sam Rainsy has asked Prime Minister Hun Sen to help more than 1,100 families evicted from central Phnom Penh to obtain plots of land at the site where they were dumped on the outskirts of the city last year.
In a letter dated Saturday and received Tuesday, Sam Rainsy said that only 440 of the 1,554 families evicted from Tonle Bassac commune in May 2006 had received plots of land as compensation in Dangkao district’s Andong Thmei relocation site.
The remaining 1,114 families are living in inhumane conditions at the site and could be re-evicted at any time, Sam Rainsy wrote.
“They had the most miserable lives…[without] proper shelter, clean water, electricity, toilets, a sewage system, schools, hospitals, markets, or opportunity to work,” he wrote, adding that some villagers had fallen sick and died.
Government spokesman and Information Minister Khieu Kanharith referred questions on Sam Rainsy’s letter to Phnom Penh City Hall.
The CPP’s Deputy Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong said that authorities have reserved 777 plots of land in Andong Thmei for over 500 families who were properly registered as renters in Tonle Bassac. He added that all 1,452 families who had been properly registered as owning property in Tonle Bassac had received plots of land.
Pa Socheatvong accused the SRP of helping double the number of families claiming land in Andong Thmei.
“The opposition’s activities encourage people to claim land…
[which] caused chaos,” he claimed, adding that the SRP had stirred up discontent at the relocation site for political reasons in the run up to April’s commune elections.
He added that City Hall now faced a situation in which it was impossible to grant every family a plot of land, given the bloated number of requests.
The municipality is continuing to help Andong Thmei residents with schools and water wells, he said.
SRP lawmaker Son Chhay accused Pa Socheatvong and other CPP officials of trying to scapegoat the SRP for their own mishandling of the controversial mass eviction.
“Instead of trying to admit their wrongdoing and solve the problem, they blame the SRP,” he said.