Villas’ Fate Unsure as Kob Srov Demolition Continues

On Tuesday it was cheering villagers, but Wednesday it was drivers of luxury suburban utility vehicles looking worriedly out over Kob Srov lake, where the demolition of residential housing is ongoing.

While a number of buildings are already reduced to rubble, it re­mains unclear what will be­come of the 18 completed villas on another section of the lake, which government officials say was filled and then built on by Long Chhin Resorts around 2001.

“According to the plan, we have to destroy all of the Long Chhin development,” Interior Ministry Secretary of State Nuth Sa An said Wednesday.

“But the second stage of the de­struction is suspended tempo­rarily because we have seven villas with people living in them. We are allowing them to try and solve the problem with the company first,” he said.

Several officials, including Kan­dal governor Khim Bo, have al­ready lost their jobs as a result of the lake filling scandal, and further allegations were made Wed­nesday implicating other government officials.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a speech on Tuesday that a secretary of state for a government ministry had bought a house on a filled in portion of the lake, though he did not name him. Hun Sen also or­dered that all of the Long Chhin Resorts buildings on Kob Srov lake be de­stroyed. He added that anyone who encroached on lake land must return it to the government without receiving compensation.

However, a Phnom Penh resident also said Wednesday that a senior government official had sold him land inside the Long Chhin development on Kob Srov a year ago.

“I have a document with [the official’s] name on it, and if I am not compensated I will make it public,” the resident told re­por­ters on condition of anonymity.

Kandal’s new provincial Gover­nor Chhun Sirun said he did not know what the government’s next step would be regarding the inhabited villas on Kob Srov lake.

Kit So, whose relative had bought land from Long Chhin, said at the site on Wednesday that he disagreed with the destruction.

“They should keep this as it would bring tourists here,” he said.

A second man who also said he had bought Kob Srov lake property from Long Chhin asked why the government had not cracked down on the company earlier.

“Who is losing money? It is Cambodian people and not the [Long Chhin Resorts] company, which has already sold most of the land and houses,” the man said, also on condition of anonymity.

Nuth Sa An, however, said that the Finance Ministry has frozen funds belonging to Long Chhin Resorts, and that buyers would be compensated.

“But I do not know how much money it has [seized],” he added.

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