SRP leader Sam Rainsy said Sunday that he will lead a large-scale demonstration against Phnom Penh City Hall if it evicts people living around the Boeng Kak backpacker lake area without paying them market price for their land.
Addressing more than 100 residents in Daun Penh district’s Srah Chak commune, he also warned that the capital could flood if Boeng Kak lake is filled in under the lakeside development plan, as some fear will happen.
“The Sam Rainsy Party will appeal to have a massive demonstration in Phnom Penh if there are evictions or land confiscation in any place,” Sam Rainsy said at the International Dubai Mosque compound. “If [authorities] dare to evict you from Boeng Kak lake, I appeal to you to participate in a massive demonstration,” he told the crowd.
On Feb 6, Phnom Penh Municipality signed a 99-year lease with little-known firm Shukaku Inc to develop a 133-hectare area that encompasses Boeng Kak lake’s residential and tourism areas.
According to a copy of the contract, Shukaku Inc is paying $79 million for the lease and some of that money will be used to compensate 4,252 families currently living in the area. The contract does not state how much each family will receive, and mentions that some of the cash will be used to develop infrastructure in the capital.
Sam Rainsy said residents should be paid $100 per square meter for their land.
Sear Nou, a 75-year-old who has been living near the lake since 1985, said no one from City Hall has met with him to discuss the project. Eng Seang, 77, said he will take legal action if he is evicted and will join any protest.
Mann Chhoeun, deputy municipal governor, said City Hall met with some residents Friday to listen to their concerns.
“We have to discuss with villagers to find a middle way,” he said. The municipality will continue to meet with villagers to reach a compromise over the development plans, he said, adding that officials have not yet decided how much compensation residents will receive.