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REUTERS : Cambodians push for transparency over large land deals

Sia Phearum, executive director of Housing Rights Task Force, speaks during an annual meeting in Phnom Penh in 2015.


In a bid to provide information to local residents, legal scholars and activists have tried to locate contracts for land deals - sometimes with the help of whistle-blowers.


Sia Phearum, executive director of the Housing Rights Task Force, a campaign group working with Cambodians displaced by urban projects, said he experienced this situation first-hand.


When more than 3,000 families faced eviction to make way for luxury apartments in the capital’s Boeung Kak Lake, Phearum’s group helped residents fight for new houses or compensation for their properties, which lacked official title deeds.


Under the contract between the government and the developer, residents were initially given three options: $800 cash compensation, housing on the city outskirts or upgrading of their homes near the site in central Phnom Penh.


But Phearum said officials never informed residents about the third possibility. “Someone working for the government leaked us the contract and we analyzed it with our lawyers,” he said. “The problem is often a lack of clear information.”


Source : Reuters News on December 23, 2016




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