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Post Magazine : A last look at icon of Cambodia’s ‘Golden Age’ before it is bulldozed to make way for condo tower

 

It emerged last October that Japanese property developer Arakawa would tear down the structure and replace it with a high-rise. Representatives for the company did not respond to requests for comment about the US$80 million project, but original plans showed that the firm had set aside five floors for existing residents – even offering homeowners a 10 per cent increase on their floor space – but the community was divided, according to Sia Phearum, director of local non-governmental organisation Housing Rights Task Force.

 

“The owner of Arakawa wanted to see the poor people who are residents of the White Building live together with the rich people, who will buy the condos after four years [of construction],” explains Sia Phearum, who was among those supporting the existing residents during negotiations. “But the people still don’t trust the government of Cambodia because of the bad experiences of the Borei Keila and Boeung Kak communities,” he says, referring to two recent high-profile and protracted land disputes in the city.

 

After less than nine months of talks, almost all the 493 White Building families (some apartments had been sub­divided) agreed to the company’s alternative offer, of compen­sation of US$1,400 per square metre. Yet not all of them were satisfied – it was less than the US$1,800 to US$2,300 they had sought at various stages of the discussions, and many didn’t want to leave at all.

 

Source : Post Magazine News on August 12, 2017

 

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PBS : As Cambodia’s economy grows, low-income residents left behind

Sia Phearum: The Khmer Rouge destroyed almost all documents, especially property records. When we transitioned from communism to democracy, refugees who came back from the camps just moved in and occupied any location they could find.

Source : PBS News Hour on June 3, 2017

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REUTERS : Cambodians push for transparency over large land deals

Sia Phearum, executive director of Housing Rights Task Force, speaks during an annual meeting in Phnom Penh in 2015.

 

In a bid to provide information to local residents, legal scholars and activists have tried to locate contracts for land deals - sometimes with the help of whistle-blowers.

 

Sia Phearum, executive director of the Housing Rights Task Force, a campaign group working with Cambodians displaced by urban projects, said he experienced this situation first-hand.

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