Hun Sen’s Sister Wins Dispute Over Land Inside Airport Concession

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Hun Sinath, left, meets with Seang Chanheng on Monday. (Hun Sinath’s Facebook)
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A plot of 50 hectares — or possibly 80 — within state land that was allocated to a major airport development is instead being transferred from a controversial tycoon to the prime minister’s sister, according to murky details emerging from a public spat among elites.

Oknha Seang Chanheng was earlier this month facing potential prosecution by Kandal Provincial Police for claiming land purportedly owned by Hun Sen’s sister Hun Bunthoeun. Officials have said the area is within the 2,600 hectares of state land granted to develop a new airport serving Phnom Penh. They have not explained how this state allocation relates to the claims of private ownership.

Chanheng this month appealed to Hun Sen to halt her prosecution, leading him to cancel the court action. She later met another of his sisters, Hun Sinath, in a further appeal.

On Monday, the Land Ministry issued a statement that Chanheng had agreed to hand 50 hectares to Bunthoeun in a compromise brokered by Land Minister Chea Sophara. In return, court complaints would be withdrawn, it said.

Sa’ang district land management bureau chief Chab Pol Vion said on Wednesday that the land was within the airport area but denied knowing about any disputes there.

Around 30 residents were arrested in 2021 amid violent clashes with authorities over the airport land. Oknha Chanheng was previously in a dispute with local villages in the area, including having a U.S. visa revoked over the issue. Tourism Minister Thong Khon, Phnom Penh deputy governor Keut Chhe and former Phnom Penh police chief Chuon Sovann reportedly also have dispute-ridden land nearby. The airport’s developer, the Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation, is chaired by one of the country’s most prominent tycoons, Pung Khiev Se, who has a history of forcibly evicting residents, including on Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich island.

Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin declined to comment on Hun Sen’s intervention in the judiciary.

A man who picked up a Commerce Ministry-listed phone number for Chanheng’s Heng Development denied he worked for her. Sa’ang Phnom commune chief Mi Pin previously said the plot in question was 80 hectares, but couldn’t be reached on Wednesday.

Additional reporting by Nat Sopheap

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