The owners of eight guesthouses on the hill above Sihanoukville’s Serendipity Beach were presented with a 10-day eviction notice on Saturday that claimed the land is the property of Oknha Kong Triv’s Pacific Group company.
The notice, which was dated Friday and signed by Sihanoukville Governor Say Hak, followed a Sept 23 letter from the Council of Ministers to the Sihanoukville municipality ordering the eviction of the guesthouse owners and 131 families. The letter also ordered the Pacific Group to pay “proper compensation” to all residents currently living in the area.
No offer of compensation was offered to the guesthouse owners, but the families living there have been offered $75 each in compensation, guesthouse owners and residents said.
British national Patrick McGarvey, owner of the Cloud 9 guesthouse, said he would not vacate his guesthouse. He said he bought the land legally in conjunction with his Khmer-American partner, Lina Kriel, who also owns and manages a guesthouse in the disputed area.
“I am very scared,” McGarvey said Tuesday.
Lina Kriel, owner of the Malibu guesthouse, said she bought a plot of land in 2002 with approval from both commune and district authorities. “If [the purchase] was illegal, why have the authorities stamped my [land title] document?”
She said she refused to leave and would not accept any form of compensation.
Kong Triv could not be contacted for comment Tuesday.
Sihanoukville First Deputy Governor Chhun Sarun said Tuesday that the authorities will evict the residents as scheduled and that about 100 of the 131 families living in the area had already moved out. “I must abide by the decision of the government,” he said.
Sihanoukville Deputy Police Commissioner Seang Kosal said more than 100 officers had been prepared to evict the squatters but that the order to go ahead with the eviction had not yet been issued.