S’ville Municipality Embroiled in Land Dispute

In an ongoing land dispute on Si­­ha­noukville’s Serendipity Beach, municipal officials on Wednesday de­marcated an area that Prime Min­­ister Hun Sen’s cabinet had la­beled terra nullis until surveyed by an independent government ministry, witnesses and officials said.

Sihanoukville Governor Say Hak confirmed Wednesday that mu­nicipal officials were measuring the area for a report the mu­nici­pal­ity was preparing for the prime mi­nis­ter’s Cabinet.

Say Hak also reinforced his long-held stance that the land be­longs exclusively to claimant Ok­nha Kong Triv and not to the own­­ers of eight guesthouses currently residing on the land and fighting eviction attempts.

“Those guesthouses were built illegally,” Say Hak said.

The guesthouse owners had been slated for eviction Feb 14, in an order signed by Say Hak on the au­thority of the Council of Min­isters. But an eleventh-hour in­junc­tion signed by the prime minister’s Ca­­binet ordered the eviction be de­l­ayed until the land is measured by the Ministry of Land Manage­ment.

Cabinet spokesman Bun Kheng said Wednesday that he did not know why the Sihanouk­ville Mu­ni­cipality was involved in the investigation.

Im Chhun Lim, Minister of Land Management, deferred all ques­tions Wednesday to his cabinet. Secretary of state for the ministry, Chea Sophara, said Wednes­day that he knew nothing about the dispute in Siha­nouk­­­ville.

Owner of the Cloud 9 guesthouse Patrick McGarvey alleged Wednesday that at least one of the men in the demarcating party was an employee of Kong Triv.

McGarvey was arrested by military police on Feb 3 for interfering with a group of Kong Triv em­ployees who were spray-painting the letters ‘KT’ on his bungalows.

McGarvey was detained and al­legedly forced to thumbprint a contract saying that he would not stop Kong Triv’s men from trespassing in the future.

Contacted Wednesday, Kong Triv denied that his employees were involved in Wednesday’s demarcation. “I follow the law [and] await for the result from the government,” he said.

 

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