Commodities tycoon Mong Reththy said Monday that he wants to develop Boeng Kak, Phnom Penh’s lakeside area popular with backpacker tourists, into a residential zone and resort area.
Mong Reththy, president of the Mong Reththy Group, said he sent his proposal to develop Boeng Kak to the Phnom Penh Municipality about four months ago and is waiting for a response.
Two other local companies, whose names he did not know, have also expressed interest in developing the area, Mong Reththy said.
“I’m waiting for the agreement from the government and municipality for development,” he said. “I want to help those people currently living around Boeng Kak to meet standards of health and safety for their living conditions…. We need to develop it into residential houses and restore the water naturally without any pollution.”
Mong Reththy acknowledged that many people living around Boeng Kak, in Daun Penh district’s Srah Chak commune, do not want to relocate and anticipated that others will ask for hefty compensation.
Though he said he was prepared to spend a substantial amount on his proposed project, he declined to give a specific value.
Guest house and business owners around Boeng Kak have often complained that lakeside development would hurt a vibrant and inexpensive tourist location. But Mong Reththy said development and sanitation measures around the lake will attract more visitors.
Mann Chhoeun, vice-governor of Phnom Penh, on Monday said he was not aware of Mong Reththy’s proposal and referred further questions to the city’s Vice-Cabinet Chief Suon Rindy.
Repeated calls to Suon Rindy were unsuccessful on Monday.
Chhay Thirith, chief of Srah Chak commune, said there are 3,958 families living around Boeng Kak—many of whom do not have titles to the land where they now live.
“Boeng Kak must be developed because it is located in the center of the capital, and we cannot let people live in a bad environment and climate,” he said.
But Mok Malay, 50, who has been living at Boeng Kak since 1995, said she will refuse if asked to move.
“The development policy seems to divide the poor and rich people to live apart from each other,” she said. “If the Municipality really needs to evict us from this place, a bloody reaction will occur.”