Not the favored few : this is my land, my home.
Hou, Jeremy Huihong.
Date of Issue2009
Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information
This illustrated feature story documents an ongoing development project in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The development of Boeung Kak Lake involves filling in the lake to create land in the city for commercial and residential properties. As a result, about 4,000 families living over the lake and its surrounds potentially face eviction from their homes without fair compensation. The legality of the development project has been disputed on a number of counts and this feature story examines the details of the lease agreement struck between the municipal government of Phnom Penh and a local private developer, Shukaku Inc. It also reports on alleged housing rights violations, in accordance with international human rights standards, which the Kingdom of Cambodia is obliged to adhere to, namely, the failure by the government to provide fair consideration of the residents’ housing needs and due compensation. Together with policemen and government activists, employees of Shukaku Inc frequently engage in what has been termed “intimidation tactics” by human rights advocates, to forcibly persuade the residents into accepting the compensation package and moving away from the lake. This is despite the residents having strong legal claims to ownership of the land. This feature story covers the accounts of key human rights advocates and residents affected by the development project as they attempt to challenge this controversial land agreement, which would result in the largest displacement of people, most of whom are poor and living in squalid conditions. In a society of the favored few, the poorest of the poor in Cambodia stand to lose their homes and livelihood to capitalist forces exerted by the elite – a growing group fed by corruption and impunity. What does it take for them to stand up to a weak government and a greedy property developer in the face of their imminent eviction? Can Cambodia’s investors, foreign aid donors and the United Nations pressurize the government for a change in its practices? Must economic development in a developing nation necessary impinge on the defenseless poor? This report hopes to raise some eyebrows.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University