Monday, November 28, 2011

By Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

AT least 22 families living in the capital’s Chamkarmon district are being forced to sell their land at below market value to the Thai Bun Roong Company in order to make way for a housing development, villagers said Wednesday.

Village representative Chhim Veasna said that the families, living on a parcel of land in Tonle Bassac commune known as T85, have received a notice from the Council of Ministers mandating that they sell their land for $400 per square metre.

The villagers say their land is worth between $2,000 and $2,500 per square metre.

“We are very concerned about our houses and living situation because we are being forced to move by the Thai Bun Roong Compnay,” Chhim Veasna said.

“They want to expel us from our places by forcing us to sell our houses to them at the lowest prices.”

A Council of Ministers notice was obtained by the Post on Wednesday. Dated September 8 and signed by Secretary of State Prak Sokhonn, it orders villagers to decide between selling their land for $400 per square metere or relocating to 4.3 metre by 16 metre lots in Dangkor district’s Choam Chao commune.

Chhim Veasna said that the villagers have been living on the land since 1990.

“We all agreed that we will not sell our houses to the company unless they offer a fair price. We will continue to live and stay here until there is a fair solution,” he said, appealing to Prime Minister Hun Sen to intervene and save the villagers from “Thai Bun Roong Company’s intimidating and forcing”.

The villagers would be willing to sell the land at between $1,000 and $2,000 per square metre, Chhim Veasna added.

Villager Meas Sovanna said that Thai Bun Roong Company agents had intimidated her and tried to force her to sell her land cheaply.

“I will not move my house to the new place unless there is fair compensation,” she said.

“If we are evicted, we will hold a big demonstration against it,” she added.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said yesterday that he had not heard of this specific complaint, but promised to look into the issue on Friday. He surmised that the Council of Ministers document that the villagers were referring to might be fake, because the government does not set land-sale prices in negotiations between companies and villagers.

A representative of Bun Roong Company could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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