About 300 vendors from Tumnup Market in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district protested outside the municipal court on Monday as one of their representatives was questioned over a complaint alleging that he led the sellers in defying an order approving a change in market management.
The vendors have been protesting against New Rich, the company that owns the market, in an effort to prevent it from replacing the director of the market and raising the cost of renting their stalls.
The municipal court has already sided with the company, and on Monday, deputy prosecutor Kuch Kimlong summoned Kim Bun An, a representative of the 348 Tumnup vendors, for questioning over a complaint filed by New Rich accusing him of “not respecting the court’s decision, threatening behavior and inciting discrimination.”
After being questioned, Mr. Bun An said that while a representative of New Rich had told the vendors that they needed to register to sign new contracts with the market, they were never made aware of a court decision compelling them to accept the changes.
The New Rich representative “came to tell us to register to buy new stalls and we have not agreed yet,” Mr. Bun An said, adding that the vendors had also thumbprinted a petition asking the company to allow Our Sophanou to remain as the market’s director.
“He always keeps his promises with us as vendors. He is very kind …and he never makes headaches for us,” he said.
Mr. Sophanou, who said he pays $7,000 per month to New Rich in order to manage the market, explained on Monday that the court had ordered him to return control of the market to the company, but that he was resisting.
“I don’t agree with the decision… because the company has to come to solve problems with me first,” he said, adding that he had invested a large amount of money into improving the market.
Representatives of New Rich could not be reached for comment.