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Unresolved Land Issues Could ‘Explode,” Analysts Say

Lao Monghay is an independent analyst stopped by VOA Khmer, file photo.
Lao Monghay is an independent analyst stopped by VOA Khmer, file photo.

Land issues will continue to be a serious problem for Cambodia’s government, given the high number of continued crackdowns, arrests and violence, analysts say.

“If an issue is covered and unsolved, one day it will explode,” Lao Monghay, an independent political analyst, told “Hello VOA,” in a regular guest appearance. “This exploded once in the history of our country,” he said, referring to the rise of the Khmer Rouge in the 1960s.

Authorities today fail to comply with the law, which leads to unrest and subsequent crackdowns. This has increasingly led to violence, but the courts, too, have been involved in curbing protests, he said.

Sia Phirum, director of the Human Rights Task Force, which advocates for housing rights, told “Hello VOA” that violent crackdowns on land protesters will only lead to more problems. Land development has no transparency, he said, “that’s why the problems happen consistently with developments.”

Negotiated solutions are the only way to move forward, Sia Phirum said. “The use of violence to crack down on people is not a solution.”

Today’s leaders have failed to protect people’s livelihoods, their freedoms and their rights, Lao Monghay said. Part of the blame falls to the National Assembly, whose lawmakers have not properly fulfilled their role as a watchdog over the executive branch. The Royal Palace has also done little to help, he said.

This was a change from the actions of the former king, Norodom Sihanouk, he said. “The suffering of the people is the suffering of the king.”