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Opposition Leader Suggests New Policy for Land

With forced evictions hitting urban and rural families alike, opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Thursday proposed a new policy to provide benefits for all.

Many evictions come under the pretext of development, but Sam Rainsy said these developments should consider the needs of the poor and not just the rich.

Sam Rainsy was referring especially to the Boeung Kak lake development in Phnom Penh, where more than 4,000 families have been moved off 133 hectares of land. People there had no rights to a proper solution, he said, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

“Public debate must be conducted before a decision is made,” he said, adding that this was the role of democracy. “Such a project should not happen again.”

Under his suggested policy, city authorities should be able to legally, fairly and peacefully clear land considered a state asset, but they should refrain from selling it or leasing it to a private developer right away.

Instead, the land should be divided into three parts, one for commercial development, through open bidding, one for the social dwellings that would receive public subsidies derived from the commercial development, and one for the creation or extension of public space, such as gardens, playgrounds, libraries or sports facilities.

Development should be undertaken in a pleasant way, not in a manner that causes sorrow or suffering, he said. Thousands of families have been evicted from development sites to unwanted areas where there are no schools, infrastructure, health care, electricity or water, he said.