As Airport Project Set to Swallow Village, Protesters Petition Hun Sen

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Officials view petitions and posters held by people protesting the new Phnom Penh airport development at Prime Minister Hun Sen’s mansion in Takhmao city on November 16, 2021. (Chorn Chanren/VOD)

Dozens of families in a Kandal village have been marked for eviction to develop Phnom Penh’s new international airport, and have petitioned Prime Minister Hun Sen complaining of the state’s compensation offer that they say is a mere 10th of market prices.

The area, in Kandal Stung district’s Boeng Khyang commune, has seen intensifying disputes this year, with 30 residents detained in September amid violence. Nine of those arrested were charged with violence, obstructing officials and incitement, though they were released on bail after the other detained residents.

On Tuesday, 20 residents representing 66 families in Kampong Ta Long village gathered outside Hun Sen’s Takhmao city mansion with their petition.

Authorities had recently notified them that the houses in the village would need to make way for the airport project, the petition said.

“We, the people in the village, are worried about the loss of our homes and know that the cost of compensation is not proportional to the actual market price,” it said, citing the $8 per square meter on offer and the $80-100 rate that a square meter of the land could supposedly fetch on the market.

Nay Phorn, a village resident, said he had 1 hectare of farmland and a 600 square meter house affected by the airport development. Compensation needed to be higher so he could buy similar land elsewhere, he said.

Khim Maly, another resident, said authorities had started measuring the size of her residential plot. Authorities previously targeted the area’s farmland — with airport developers bulldozing people’s fields despite protests — before moving onto the housing.

“They have not yet resolved for acceptable compensation for the impact on our farmland, and now they come to measure the house. They came to put more pressure on the people. If they still pay $8 in compensation, we are determined to protest,” Maly said.

Kandal provincial governor Kong Sophorn said the deal remained the same at $8 per square meter or a land swap in a new location, and that was the government policy.

Most residents had agreed, he said.

“The head of the impact settlement [team] has set up a working group to study and make sure that their evaluation will not lack direct inspections and observations, and they will listen to the opinions of the people, and we have consulted with them to bring the right offer to them,” Sophorn said.

The airport’s developer, the Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation, is chaired by one of the country’s most prominent tycoons, Pung Khiev Se.

(Translated and edited from the original article on VOD Khmer)

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