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River relocation request rejected

Taing Vida / Khmer Times Share:
Vietnamese familes living on the Tonle Sap river in Kampong Chhnang province. KT/ Mai Vireak

A request from the Khmer Vietnamese Association for the Interior Ministry to delay the relocation of Vietnamese families living on the  Tonle Sap river in Kampong Chhnang province has been rejected.

The KVA’s letter, submitted last week, asked the ministry to intervene in the relocation of 2,397 ethnic Vietnamese families, noting that the land they are being relocated to lacks the necessary infrastructure to support them.

Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Saturday made the request public when he denied the delay during an interview with local media, despite admitting on Thursday that authorities have faced difficulties relocating the families due to a lack of infrastructure.

Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak confirmed the denial of an extension when reached by phone.

“The government had thought about their concerns before making such a move,” Mr Sopheak said. “We are actually doing this for them. We could not let them live on floating houses – it’s dangerous and difficult to control.”

“The plan had been delayed for years, so now I think it’s time. We want the Vietnamese residents to understand and learn how Cambodians are living after the Khmer Rouge,” he added. “Roads, electricity, schools and hospitals will be built for sure.”

A total of 10,087 Vietnamese residents currently living on the river have resided in the country for more than a dozen years, with most  entitled to permanent residency status, the KVA said in the letter.

Full story in Monday’s paper

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