SEKSAK, BATTAMBANG — On the back 7 to 10 percent growth over much of the last decade, Cambodia’s government insists it is trying to build what it calls a sustainable land policy, including reclaiming fertile terrain lost to landmines and bombs — legacies of the country’s years of civil conflict. But others say a corrupt and Chinese-influenced administration is trampling the rights of citizens in the name of economic development in what remains a country still recovering from long-finished wars. Until six months ago, the fields behind Ly Susmat’s house in Seksak village in the western Battambang province were not safe to walk. That was before the NGO Mines Advisory Group pitched down in the village to clear mines and unexploded ordnance, a dangerous and economically-debilitating legacy of civil war in a country where around 80% of the people depend on farming for a living. He has got some land to farm safely now, but that’s just a start. “I need capital to rent a plough, I want to grow highland rice here,” Ly Susmat says, waving an arm toward an 8,000 meter square plot of land outside Seksak, a former Khmer Rouge stronghold in the west of the country.
PHNOM PENH – ‘This isn’t right at all’, says Mr Ponlok, owner of a waterfront cafe at Boeung Kok lake in Phnom Penh. ‘People are being forced out and the compensation is way too small’. Lakeside residents are being driven from their homes as developers try to fill the landmark lake in Cambodia’s capital with earth and sand, prior to turning it into a residential and shopping complex. In deal signed between Shukaku Inc. and the Cambodian Government, a 99-year lease to the 103-hectare lake site was granted to the developers, a location that sits under the noses of the nearby British and French embassies.