Urban planning and the controversial development of Boeung Kok Lake
Note: Below is partly re-posting a discussion on Facebook between Sophan and Kevin Sok under the topic posted by MP Mu Sochua about a video clip illustrating Venerable Loun Sovath and his human rights defending. You can read the whole conversation on this link (click here). The English writing re-posting here is not edited. We hope by posting here we can keep the critical points of the conversation useful for the readers while facebook might not keep this conversation as their priority.
Dear All. I am intrigued by your very constructive argument. Regarding Ven. Loun Sovath, I think his eyes-witnessing of land grab and gun shot of the authority to his siblings, relatives and neighbors was greatly affective on his Buddhist monk mentality: learning/practicing by yourself, sharing/teaching your close relatives, and expanding this compassion/knowledge sharing to the greater society. His civil rights and social engagement will not be alienated and deprived. Regarding Cham Vasa or Rain Retreat of Buddhist monks are minor to the offense in Buddha’s code of conduct. It is Pacittiya offense or minor offense in Buddhism. Otherwise, his outreaching to communities during this Vasa stemmed from the subsequent orders from Buddhist supreme patriarch Tep Vong and Non Ngeth banning him from staying in Phnom Penh, and yes the provincial monk also banned him in his village too. I really want to know those orders are basing on the monk conscience or it is just the obeying in accordance to the government’s signal? It is controversial on your argument that Buddhist monk like Ven. Loun Sovath should not join political activity (as I think he is not) but the other monks especially the supreme patriarch are obeying the government’s order. Do you know Somdech Tep Vong was consecrated by Hun Sen (televised nationwide that Hun Sen watered on the head of Somdech Tep Vong). Regards
October 4 at 12:21pm
MP Mu Sochua, thanks for your challenge me to tell what I have said to residents of Boeun Kak lake and else where. I doubt you are aware the real history of Boeun Kak Lake after Pol Pot regime because you have lived happy life in USA while myself have lived just 200 metres from Boeun Kak lake. However, if you know the whole story, you won’t dare to spell it out because telling the truth you won’t get a political gain. From 1979-1985 there were small group of people live behind the French Embassy, staffs of the Save children Centre who have lived behind that centre and some people lived in the south part of the lake, 90% of Boeun Kak land was the empty place with had very long grass which was hard to walk through. In 1986, the city governor has turned that empty place from behind Calmette Hospital up to behind the Save children centre into a national park where most people came to visit, play games and see some animals like monkey and crocodiles…etc and the Muslim mosque was a restaurant. But surprisingly, before UNTAC arrived in 1992, Boeun Kak national park became thousand houses of the residents. During that time, I told my friends and my neighbours who rushed to catch the land of Boeun Kak national park to be careful because we all know that it is belong to the government, but they replied that I was not smart to do business like them (sic) If my family was greed like most people in Boeun Kak Lake, my parent no need to do like them, just took the land around 3 hectares behind the medical school was the next door of the Save Children centre because from 1984-1989, my father was the chief of that medical school. See, despite 90% of Boeun Kak land is belong to the government, but the government has solved the issue for residents as a whole. However, the dispute is still existed as we speak. If Boeun Kak land was in Western country like Australia, the residents who moved to live in former Boeun Kak national park will be kicked out within 24 hours by the police, let alone ever get any money from the government like in Cambodia. Moreover, if the government has decided to solve the issue with only 10% of the residents who are the real owners of the land, Boeun Kak Lake’s dispute has sorted out long times ago.
October 4 at 11:48pm
Land issue in Cambodia is lingering by the corruption and anarchic settlement. In the wake of war, both government and people are anarchic. But the anarchic people is a large profit for anarchic government. The issue of Beoung Kok Lake once has been academically and publicly debated by the researchers, environmentalists and the government. The solution was settled to preserve this natural lake as the leisure place and water reservoir for flooding water in Phnom Penh capital city. But lately, the government decided to give concession this important strategic land to their patron tycoon for 99 years without considering the research finding or having proper plan for it. In a short period, government can hand those huge amount of money, but in a long run, the children of Phnom Penh city will be drawn and badly affected by this self-suicidal concession. I am reading Kevin’s lineage event description and his personal factual explaining about Beoung Kok Lake with great impressive. I think to be durable, Kevin might need references to support his personal factual narration. This website helps us a lot about understanding Beoung Kok Lake and the urban poor/development: http://saveboeungkak.wordpress.com/2007/02/ and Dr. Bunnarith gave us much insight on the proper development of BKL http://www2.hawaii.edu/~csaloha/articles/Between_Metropolitan_Centrality_and_Poverty_Reduction_Policies.pdf
[Note from the editor of the Mirror: The following is presented because it refl…
October 5 at 2:06am ·
Sophoan Seng, I am glad if you want to talk about environment of Boeun Kak lake and I respect your opinion about “preserve this natural lake as the leisure place and water reservoir for flooding water in Phnom Penh” As I mentioned above, Boeun Kak lake was the national park and its water is OK, but after anarchy people took over before UNTAC arrival, Boeun Kak lake has became Boeun Kak Lou because those residences polluted the water worse than we could ever imagine. Boeun Kak lake’s water is worst like Khmer called “Tek Lou” That is why I called Boeun Kak Lou. It became the safe heaven for million mosquitoes fly out every night to spread diseases to city residences. Please bear in mind that those anarchy residences, they built their houses as temporary houses, no toilet or other stuffs like normal house and most owners don’t sleep there. They rent their houses to many kinds of people: robbers, thieves, prostitutes, drug dealer/users even the chief of Al Qaeda for Southeast Asia (Hambarlie) also used to stay there. So, who is care about environment or who has damaged the Boeun Kak lake’s environment? Boeun Kak Lake had started from empty place to national park, then, Boeun Kak Lou and in the future it becomes a nice residences and beautiful park. Well, opposition can invent the story about Boeun Kak lake to their supporters who live in overseas but most Khmer inside the country who knew about the history of Boeun Kak Lake will not impress about it. When Boeun Kak national park opened for the public in 1986 onward, not only Phnom Penh residences visited there, there were many people came from the provinces as well.
October 5 at 6:01am
@Kevin Sok, as I have mentioned about durable information you have mentioned, you have always based on your personal factual description. What you mentioned about Beong Kok became Beoung Lou and it was resided by robbers, thieves or terrorists; where are the durable sources and where is your references? How is your virtue and mentality to biasedly accuse your debater in this stage as supporting opposition political party? For the sake of Cambodia and a learned one, I don’t think your debate approach is praised by the wise and saved the best benefit for Cambodia. 1. Boeung Kok Lake is a natural lake can be considered as the ancient natural heritage hugely benefit for a wise developer. 2. Outcomes of a wise development remaining Beoung Kok Lake for both greenery sustainable investment and reducing the over flooding water in the city. 3. The concept of urban development and poverty reduction will not in the way that government has been operating nowadays. Dr. Bunnarith elaborated in his paper that ““GREEN RING” concept will not only raise the spiral of economic development, improve urban life and urban community, but also care for the city’s scarce natural resource, not compromising future generations.” Source: http://www2.hawaii.edu/~csaloha/articles/Between_Metropolitan_Centrality_and_Poverty_Reduction_Policies.pdf and he elaborated on replacement and housing policy in the urban poor areas that “Yet, the Government is endeavoring towards enabling, not depleting, existing housing stocks and improving housing conditions so that people, including the urban poor, can live in a safe and secure environment.” Source: http://www2.hawaii.edu/~csaloha/articles/Between_Poverty_Reduction_Strategy_and_National_Housing_Policy.pdf So what you have said about the pollution of Beoung Kok Lake, the residents there are not blamable, it is the government’s will to govern their own citizens. However, I walked through behind Phnom Penh Hotel and around the area including boating, the situation is not like what you claimed. I praise the Phnom Penh municipality for their effort to maintain clean within the city. My personal factual description is different from you; I also can prove you by photos I took.
October 5 at 11:54am
Sophoang Seng, I am the local people live near Boeung Kak since 1979 and I am always seen the events surrounding Beoung Kak as a daily life. What I have mentioned about Boeung Kak is based on my own eyes and I have no intention to invent the story about Boeung Kak either. If you doubt about what I said, it is supposed to be you to find durable source which is proved otherwise. As for pollute water which caused by those residents, I am regret that you had time to see area behind Phnom Penh luxury Hotel, but did not come to see the reality in Boeung Kak area behind Calmette Hospital. However, you can see the pictures of water in Boeung Kak here: http://www.gluckman.com/CambodiaEvictions.html
As for that area was resided by robbers, thieves and terrorist. There is plenty of news outlets in Cambodia have reported about it, you can ring to local newspapers editor or contact Dr. Bunnarith, you will know about it. This is the website about Hambali in Cambodia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riduan_Isamuddin. Please bear in mind that Hambali had used the Mosque in Boeung Kak as his base while he stayed in Cambodia. When he was arrested in Thailand on 14 August 2003, Boeung Kak residents as other people who have remembered him were so regret that they didn’t know that Hambali is a chief of Terrorist in Southeast Asia and the U.S will award $5 million to anyone who gives information leads to arrest him. Well, I don’t understand on what you said that “How is my virtue and mentality to biasedly accuse my debater in this stage as supporting opposition political party?” Who is you refer to as my debater that I accused him in this stage as supporting opposition party? Which is part of my word in this topic that I accused him like that? Actually, I have never accused anyone without proof and I also don’t like people who accused other people without proof either. Moreover, Dr. Bunnarith is worked for Ministry of land management, Urban Planning and Construction in Cambodia. His view is in the scope of the government’s planning.
October 5 at 8:28pm
@Kavin Sok, it might be my part on sightseeing only the eastern side but it would be not an appropriate excuse for the policy makers to see some pollution or sheltering terrorists etc as the pretext to transform the old lake into the concrete. Dr. Bunnarith used his talent in urban planning and poverty reduction policy practiced in developed countries that it has not been workable in Cambodia as every thing is likely anarchic: no proper plan, no goal, no sympathy, no transparency, no rule of law and no good governance. Whoever can undertable most will win the bid. It seems urban planning policy is money talk, not planning policy talk. Regarding comment or accusation, you can read your statement again “Well, opposition can invent the story about Boeun Kak lake to their supporters who live in overseas but most Khmer inside the country who knew about the history of Boeun Kak Lake will not impress about it.” while you were debating with me. Get to the point, my knowledge in urban planning and personal conscience, transforming the ancient lake into concrete is an imprecation on Cambodian greenery nature, Cambodian ancestors and it is a committing self-suicide. This not mention the ongoing bleeding and tearing of the urban poor residents.
October 6 at 12:21am
@Sophoan Seng, Please let me make it clear with you on what I said that “Well, opposition can invent the story about Boeun Kak lake to their supporters who live in overseas but most Khmer inside the country who knew about the history of Boeun Kak Lake will not impress about it”. Opposition means I refer to SRP because this topic I am not only debated with you, but with MP Mu Sochua too. I don’t accuse you as opposition at all. Well, I just saw Dr. Bunnarith’s picture with you. I am admire his opinion which is similar with the original thought of the government when Boeung Kak was still national park. But when anarchy people settled at Boeung Kak national park, thing has changed. The reason that I have said he is worked with Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction in Cambodia because I saw the website that you showed me above, he wrote below his name that General Secretariat of Council of Land Policy, then Ministry of Land management, Urban Planning and Construction (July 2006). Look, I am the local people, please don’t think that I don’t care about Boeung Kak. Environment from Boeung Kak is affected me, my family and local people more than yourself. When Boeung Kak was a national park, I always spent my free time from school to see sunset, walking around park or watching people finishing there, but sadly, Boeung Kak has turned into a terrible way. Most people who live surrounding Beoung kak feel deeply affected and pray to the government to develop it into the better place. However, I feel so pity to some Khmer people who were sent back from Thailand’s border during UNTAC who have no choice but to stay in Boeung Kak national park. Well, you can express your opinion about Boeung Kak, I respect your view, but I prefer the current development rather than leave Boeung Kak in the hand of those residents.
October 6 at 1:21am
@Kevin Sok, I am impressed by your research about me and Dr. Bunnarith. Of course, we studied the same school before but different field. Yes, you can see my name, my pictures and my activities posted in every where on the internet. As a Koun Khmer, I have no secrecy about myself and the causes I have to talk for Cambodian nation. However, if you are really sharing the same emotion with me, I do expect to know who you are, what is your background, your photo or your education etc. Frankly speaking, this debate and sharing is basing on fraternity, common sense sharing for the causes of Cambodian society and collective effort in bringing the best choice for Cambodia. Though, your mention referred to MP Mu Sochua, I am still seeing it as an unfriendly approach because in Cambodia as you might know, in order to humiliate someone, first the authority will accuse him or her as political activist inclining to opposition party. This is a severe situation in Cambodia that most Cambodians are shut up by this political endeavor and yes Cambodia has lost gigantic human resource from this political threat. Freedom of speech and freedom of expression is a huge source for human resource development. Also Visal Ross stated “Development is a people-centered process that encompasses economic and social well-being.” But your argument has been clearly seen as an effort to isolate the people from this development policy by giving 100% legitimacy to the powerful man. You might ask yourself that if development without giving well-being to the people especially the onsite urban poor residents, development for what? Sokhon Tiv who is with our debate group posted an impressive quote of Socrates that “The shortest and surest way to live with honour in the world, is to be in reality what we would appear to be; and if we observe, we shall find, that all human virtues increase and strengthen themselves by the practice of them.” I hold this proverb as Beoung Kok development must be standing on reality. Reality will give use huge success. Few questions you might need to consider about Boeung Kok Lake: 1. Concession 99 (?) to Shakaku Inc. is appropriate for Cambodia?, 2. Dredging sand to fill up the greenery lake is acceptable while both sources of sand dredging and the natural Boeung Kok lake are deteriorating., 3. The sound of people crying for justice from this development should be ignored or paid attention? I think you don’t mind to elaborate these three questions for the sake of our debate here.
October 6 at 10:22am
Sophoan Seng, Sorry that I cannot say anything outside this topic. However, through this debate, you can see about my life since 1979 onward. As for your three question: First, according to Cambodian law, the concession 99 years to Shukaku Inc. is well inside the law. Second, Dredging sand to fill up the greenery lake is acceptable while both sources of sand dredging and the natural Boeung Kok lake are deteriorating. This might be affected the sand and the natural of Boeung Kak, but it is still better than leave Boeung Kak’s environment is damaged by those residents beyond repair. Third, if you read or remember what I mentioned about the history of Boeung Kak since 1979, you will see my answer it. I don’t want to repeat it all over again. Moreover, you might be right to say that “in Cambodia as you might know, in order to humiliate someone, first the authority will accuse him or her as political activist inclining to opposition party” but you should look another side of politics. If you have time to read in KI-Media which is belong to SRP’s supporters, you will see what those SRP supporters insulting and curse to the Cambodian government and the CPP supporters. It is the worst languages which is I ever seen since I have started to study English. What do you think about KI-Media in term of promote democracy in the sake of Cambodia?
October 6 at 8:50pm
@Kevin Sok, I don’t mind if you don’t want to disclose yourself. My ranting just run after your mouth. 99 years concession is according to the Cambodian law is listenable. It might be able to compare like the 25 years friendship signed under the Viet Minh troops in 1997. According to Dr. Peang Meth, the 25 years ended in 2004 and it was re-amended in 2005. I think by this law, every Cambodian who have sharing Cambodian conscience are feeling entrapped and emotionally sad. I have tried to search around this world, I don’t see any country who gave concession land to foreigner 99 years. It is unbelievable that is happening in Cambodia. Regarding the excuse of pollution and resident anarchy is incomparable to the ramification of the reshaping and transforming a natural greenery lake into the concrete building. On the other hand, reading this law chapter (you might be able to apply with the concession law you mentioned) “Cambodia’s 2001 Land Law prohibits deprivation of ownership without due process and grants the right to apply for a land title to someone who has been in possession of a private property for five years. Article 44 of the Constitution states that the government can only deprive someone of property for “public interest” purposes and requires the payment of fair and just compensation.” Reflectively, law is working only with the powerful. I don’t think KI-Media is the supporter of Sam Rainsy Party though many articles are likely supporting Sam Rainsy Party posted there. Many SRP’s members and its internal rules are ethical and standing on humanity, not humiliation. Like MP Mu Sochua who is with us here, she has always expressed her vocal voice on the moral and legal basis, not insulting or humiliating. Insulting and humiliating have been successfully used by the enemy, not by the patriots. Historically speaking, Viet Minh hated Somdech Sihanouk deep to bone but their cadres must act like loving Sihanouk so much in order to achieve their goal. On the other side, it is not Khmer haters who have been professionally insulting Sihanouk, but it is the plan to do whatever to divide the political unity in Cambodia. I would like also want to appeal to KI-Media webmaster to understand that if you want progressive and sustainable development in Cambodia, you must stand on reality. Socrates praised reality as the main stand for growth and achievement. Insulting cannot solve the problems and it only creates endless enmity and failure. If Sam Rainsy Party has taken KI-Media approach, it might have no today. I cannot calculate how many people claiming themselves as SRP’s activists but they have mistakenly made this party shameful in the eyes of intellectuals. I am an independent observer has always borne neutral mind to see growth in Cambodia. My debate stands on this ethic.
October 6 at 10:20pm
Sophoan Seng, Thanks for your comment. I am fully aware about the Cambodian land law 2001 and the Cambodian Costitution. If you or opposition think that the land concession of Boeung Kak is breached the Land law or unconstitution, we have to go to the Constitutional Councils to interpret it. What I have debated with you is in the rule of law in Cambodia. Of course, Cambodian law might be different from Western country, but if you live or step in any country, no matter what you don’t like that country law, you have no choice but to comply with it. You are right to say that “law is working only with the powerful”. It has been happened not only in Cambodia, but most of countries in this World. You can argue that “Many SRP’s members and its internal rules are ethical and standing on humanity, not humiliation” But it is the rule and not reflect with SRP’s action at all. I just like give you one example: You might hear Mr. Sam Rainsy’s interview on RFA or VOA, look at his language. Most of times, his talking like he has a fire ball inside his chest. Is this the person who has ethic and standing for humanity, not humiliation? I don’t think so. I also disagree on what you said that KI-media is not the supporters of SRP. KI-Media is belong to SRP supporters, even MP Mu Sochua has often posted news from Ki-Media and she is keen to encourage Khmer people to read KI-Media. Well, SRP and SRP supporters might deny that Ki-media is not belong to them, but they cannot deny the truth. SRP’s finger prints are in everywhere inside KI-Media. Please bear in mind that the Cambodian government has a long arm to know almost every secret news within SRP. I am admire that you has appealed to KI-media owner to understand the progressive….and must stand on reality. but I don’t think he/she will listen your advice. In my opinion, if SRP has embraced only people who has intelligent thinking and gentle opinion like you, SRP members will be reduced dramatically. It could be a suicidal for SRP as well. Most of SRP supporters are not a peacefully people, you can listen in candle light program of SRP, you will know about it.
October 6 at 11:37pm
@Kevin Sok, the rule of law in Cambodia has become the rule of manipulation. Why I say this? Many evidences have been displayed. The tone of speakers cannot be judged as insulting. But if I am Sam Rainsy, I am grateful for your advise and kind mind to criticize his flaws to be more flawless while you are supporting another party. Like I keep ask you about the meaning of development, while people on the site have been humiliated, what is the goal of development? According to your observation, it seems SRP has no good people at all. You might want to say that this party has many members because their profession in insulting, right? I think SRP must listen to you especially you and I must jump in to help this party then in order to keep political ballancing in Cambodia for the sake of Cambodia.
Friday at 1:47am
Sophoan Seng, As you might know well that the rule of law in Cambodia is based on liberal democracy but in practice, some bad the government officers have misused it and it becomes the rule of manipulation as you mentioned. I don’t condone those actions at all because it won’t help the ruling party and is an obstacle in development of the country. Honestly, I have no intention to give any advice to Mr. Sam Rainsy because he regards himself is the best Western educated person which is Cambodia ever produced while myself is just a young generation. Thanks for your grateful to my word related to Mr. Sam Rainsy. Please don’t get me wrong, I have never thought that SRP has no good people at all, but based on my observation, most SRP supporters are not a peaceful people. I have friends both sides in Cambodian politics and I have never seen any SRP supporter as my enemy even though, they have insulted me very badly when I just expressed my opinion about Cambodian politics. I always want to see Cambodian opposition becomes an alternative government like in Western country, but I doubt it will happen with current opposition. Every issue in Cambodia, if the opposition dares to acknowledge the truth and cooperation with the government to solve the problem and leave aside our political different for the sake of the country, I think Cambodia will move quicker than current situation. However, Most of issues have happened in Cambodia always become the political football which complicated the issue further. Finally, I hope SRP supporters understand what I said and I have no intention to lecture them at all. It is all from the bottom of heart and we all are Khmer.
Friday at 5:19am
@Kevin Sok, I am emancipated by your open minded and clinching a hand for the sake of Cambodia. This culture must be nurtured. A young generation of Cambodia like you would be a hope for Cambodia. Regarding your point on the SRP’s members are not peaceful people, might be right if I based on current political space of Cambodia. Pluralism and political space in Cambodia nowadays are not acceptable. It has changed from worse to the worst. After the election in 1993, I can see some light of liberal democracy with pluralism trend in Cambodia. But the coalition government was fragile following after by humiliation on the peaceful demonstrators, the killing/arresting/jailing activists, and the coup etc. Now it has arrived to the spot of absolutism at the podium of liberal democracy, the parliament. Current situation of the most majority of seats as well as the big gap of seats obtaining at the assembly are not good sign for liberal democracy in Cambodia at all. You might ask what? SRP’s members have bad tempered might also stem from the pushing pushing pushing their opponents to the corner of the CPP’s policy. It is good for the CPP to win in that way because in Cambodia this way might be the best way to operate for the winning after the Cambodian people are still embedded by the past scar of trauma and suffering. But it is not intellectual in cultivating the national interests. Like you can ensure your friends, the main sources of political tasks such as the media, the money, the civil manpower etc. are totally controlled by the CPP. This is also not a good sign for future Cambodia in developing pluralism which is the key for liberal democracy. The TVs, Radio and printing materials who are supporting CPP have revealed majorly on the positive sides of the country, but the negative sides such as the land grabbing, the illegal immigrants, the misbehaving of the powerful officials, the abuse of power of the powerful officials etc. are intentionally disregarded and they are unwilling to expose them to the public for positive change of Cambodia at all. All these demonstrate the disgraceful scenario for future Cambodia.
Friday at 9:36am
Kevin SokSphoan Seng, Thanks for your comment which is indicated many good points. However, we should conclude our debate because we are already way out of this topic and we will meet again in the new topic in due course. My last word in this topic is “Say is much easier than done”.Friday at 9:16pm
@Kevin Sok, this is might be an happy ending but there are many things are still on the queue to be discussed. Buddha taught that “thought leads to speech, speech leads to action”, so Khmers said “action without having proper thought would be dangerous”. So the concept of speaking is easier than doing is not generally correct. Doing without speaking might be the same concept of “doing without having proper plan”. In conclusion, the crony capitalism is the driven force of Beoung Kok Lake development and yes evidently it is absolutely “doing without having proper plan” for the Beuong Kok Lake development. It is very shortsighting that Cambodia should not leave Beoung Kok Lake at the edge of abyss. The tears and cry of urban poor residents might become a curse for the future and next generations of Cambodia. The discuss with you and me here is very substantial. I would like to request this discussion to be posted in this blog www.sophanseng.info. I hope you don’t mind about this. Thanks in advance!គិតត្រិៈរិៈពិចារណាCritical Thinking Aspired to – Individual Family Community Nation World បចេ្ចកបុគ្
@Kevin Sok, as I have mentioned about durable information you have mentioned, y…
Saturday at 11:21pm
Land issue in Cambodia is lingering by the corruption and anarchic settlement. In the wake of war, both government and people are anarchic. But the anarchic people is a large profit for anarchic government. The issue of Beoung Kok Lake once has been academically and publicly debated by the researchers, environmentalists and the government. The solution was settled to preserve this natural lake as the leisure place and water reservoir for flooding water in Phnom Penh capital city. But lately, the government decided to give concession this important strategic land to their patron tycoon for 99 years without considering the research finding or having proper plan for it. In a short period, government can hand those huge amount of money, but in a long run, the children of Phnom Penh city will be drawn and badly affected by this self-suicidal concession. I am reading Kevin’s lineage event description and his personal factual explaining about Beoung Kok Lake with great impressive. I think to be durable, Kevin might need references to support his personal factual narration. This website helps us a lot about understanding Beoung Kok Lake and the urban poor/development: http://saveboeungkak.wordp