Villagers Take Boeng Kak Lake Construction Protest to City Hall

About 200 residents of the Boeng Kak lake area protested Monday in front of Phnom Penh City Hall demanding that authorities stop a private developer from filling in the well-known lake.

The protesters, who are de­manding that all work stop until an agreement is reached with Boeng Kak’s estimated 4,250 residents affected by the filling, started gathering at the municipal office at about 6 am.

Traffic slowed along Monivong Boulevard as the protesters huddled to thumbprint petitions using red and blue ink as about a half-dozen commune and military police kept watch.

In addition to calling for the filling of the lake to stop, the demonstrators said Boeng Kak residents should receive the full market price for their land if they are evicted.

“I want the company to meet us directly and negotiate a fair price,” said Put Vanny, 57, who has lived near the lake since 1991.

“It is not fair that they provide the same price to everyone re­gardless if someone has a big or small house,” he said.

At about 8:30 am, four women representing the protesters en­tered the city hall offices carrying petitions thumb-printed by 301 people and a letter that read, “We would like to inform you that the villagers are scared of de­stroyed houses, lost jobs, having flooded streets and forced evictions…”

The representatives returned about 30 minutes later without having met Phnom Penh Munici­pal Governor Kep Chuktema. In­stead, Phnom Penh municipal ad­ministrator Som Sareoun pro­mised to pass on the petition and protest letter, said Sin Channy, one of the four village representatives.

“He received our request letter and promised to give us an answer next Monday,” Sin Channy said.

“We hope that the governor will reply with a good answer. If we don’t get a good answer, we will gather at City Hall again,” she added.

Pin Ny, 42, who has lived near Boeng Kak since 1980, said she was disappointed with the outcome.

“I want the governor to solve the problem soon because pumping sand is very quick and will flood the villagers houses,” she said soon after hearing the news.

“If the government doesn’t provide good results next Monday, I will keep trying until it happens.”

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