Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday dismissively scolded a UN official who criticized the Cambodian government about the lack of transparency in land management issues and for allowing the rich and the powerful to seize land from poor people.
Speaking at a ceremony in Phnom Penh on Literacy Day, Prime Minister Hun Sen said some foreign friends sometimes think Cambodian people do not know how to protect their own interest and look at Cambodians as thieves.
Without saying the official's name, Prime Minister Hun Sen said the UN official, who last week criticized the government on the land management issues, came to Cambodia to make money. The prime minister says some people go to work for the UN because they could not find a job.
Miloon Kothari, the UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing and Housing Rights for UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, visited Phnom Penh at the end of August to assess the housing situation in Cambodia.
Kothari criticized the police and the court for mishandling a land dispute in Poipet. In that incident the court issued a warrant to evict 218 families. The families refused to move and clashed with the local police and military who were deployed to enforce the court's order. Five civilians were shot to death by the police.
Regarding Phnom Penh, Kothari said he is worried about aims to rapidly develop the capital. Citing the land swap involving the Royal University of Fine Arts, and the Koh Pich island as examples, Kothari said these plans make a lot of people lose their houses and become poorer.
Opposition legislator Keo Remy of the Sam Rainsy Party said he is cautious about foreign criticism, but said that it, nonetheless, ‘’shames’’ the government. Hun Sen’s ruling party, he continued, should address long-existing problems that torment average and poverty-stricken Cambodians, such as land grabbing