Tuesday, December 28, 2010

‘Regret’ over forced evictions

I find this slight humorous, if not a Homer Simpson "Doh!" moment. To think that the government ministers are now claiming ignorance of humanitarian policies is certainly a bit far-fetched, but I suppose acknowledging it is the first step. Let's hope that this is a positive sign for future development policies of the Cambodian government.

Monday, 27 December 2010
By May Titthara

A senior government official yesterday expressed “regret” over the forced eviction and relocation of thousands of Phnom Penh residents in recent years, attributing problems to a lack of awareness in resolving government policy.

Speaking at a workshop in Phnom Penh yesterday, Im Chhun Lim, the Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, said that though the removal and relocation of residents’ homes was commonplace in developing countries, it was important that the government takes action based on the proper policies.

He said much confusion stemmed from residents who are living illegally on state land, but who claim ownership and market-price compensation for their properties.

“It is regrettable that [we] were not previously sufficiently aware of how to resolve issues such as the confusion between resettlement based on humanitarian policies and the resettlement based on market price compensation or unreasonably high compensation demands that could not be accommodated,” he said.

Im Chhun Lim added that some relocation cases were complicated by the involvement of politicians, which delayed compensation negotiations or caused standoffs between residents and the authorities. Often, the disputes did not end until the government took “administrative measures”, forcibly removing residents from disputed land.

He stressed that the government wanted to avoid these problems at all costs, and would implement a “humanitarian” policy related to urban evictions and relocations.

Back in Cambodia

view from my balcony with Angkor Wat on the horizon (if you squint or have binoculars)

Aaahhh...I'm baaack!

It's great to be back in Cambo-land. I've got a nice flat to live in with Wi-Fi and enough space, even though it's a little further than I wanted from the main part of town and I have to fight traffic by the big market every time I come and go.

Getting settled in and re-connected with folks has been good. I managed to find a part-time paying job within 3 days of arrival thanks to a CouchSurfing connection. And, the funny thing is that it is a school I taught at 5 years ago, Paul Dubrule Hotel and Tourism School. And there are a few more things in the pipeline.

Now I'm in my final week of "freedom" before the volunteering and teaching begin on January 3rd.