Families living next to Phnom Penh International Airport filed a petition with the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) on Wednesday to find out why City Hall has not yet issued them land titles now that Prime Minister Hun Sen had promised to protect them from eviction.
Authorities have for the past several years been threatening to evict hundreds of families living near the airport without titles to make way for an expansion. Mr. Hun Sen finally put the matter to rest in March, when he promised to “keep the status quo” in order to avoid demonstrations.
Thma Koul resident Keo Sovann speaks to reporters outside the Anti-Corruption Unit’s headquarters in Phnom Penh on Wednesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)About 40 residents of the Thma Koul neighborhood in Pur Senchey district gathered outside the ACU’s headquarters on Norodom Boulevard on Wednesday morning in the hope of finding out if, and when, they would finally be getting their coveted land titles.
“We are not accusing anyone of corruption, but we wonder why the notice from Samdech Techo [Mr. Hun Sen] has not been implemented by the lower levels” of government, said Keo Sovann, one of the residents.
Mr. Sovann showed a reporter a photograph of a notice from the Council of Ministers, dated June 15 and signed by Secretary of State Tek Reth Samrach, reiterating the prime minister’s instructions to nix the airport expansion plans and keep the “status quo.”
The ACU allowed one of the residents to enter the compound and deliver the community’s petition after about half an hour, but officials did not address the media and could not be reached for comment later.
But Met Measpheakdey, a spokesman for the municipal government, said the families had been told clearly that they would not be evicted and should stop worrying.
“I don’t understand why they are still protesting,” he said.
The spokesman said he had no idea whether the city would be granting them land titles, however, and that he would inquire with officials.
Resident Sao Sokyean said the ACU should investigate whether their lack of land titles was the result of government corruption.
“We have lived here since after the Khmer Rouge. Why aren’t we eligible for land titles like other places? We will not stop protesting if we do not get legal rights to our land.”
sokhean@cambodiadaily.com
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