Phnom Penh's Poor Paying the Price of Development ?

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CEOCambodiaNews
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Phnom Penh's Poor Paying the Price of Development ?

Post by CEOCambodiaNews »

Opinion
Poor suffering in a changing Phnom Penh
Paritta Wangkiat COLUMNIST
published : 25 Sep 2019 at 04:01

Released in Thailand early this month, an award-winning Cambodian documentary film, Last Night I Saw You Smiling, captures the last glimpse of a vibrant residential community in Phnom Penh's iconic White Building before it was closed in 2017.

Cambodian filmmaker Kavich Neang, whose family lived in the state-subsidised apartment building, tells a story of forced eviction in fast-growing Phnom Penh where the poor have little bargaining power to claim their rights. His film shows the buzzing apartment building being gradually demolished after the government handed it over to a Japanese developer.

Featured in the film are daily conversations among residents who, as the eviction deadline approaches, worry about their future and compensation that will not be sufficient for them to buy a new place to live.

Watching this film reminds me of the first time I visited the city in 2008. I recall there were many informal settlements of low-income people dotted around the city, along with signs of emerging developments. It was like a prologue to a changing Phnom Penh, once wracked by civil war.

I was back there a few months ago and stunned to see how quickly the city has been developed with many high rises and luxury properties in the city centre. More construction activity was going on, with noise from roaring machines heard day and night. What had disappeared were the low-income communities I saw during my first visit.

Then, a Cambodian friend drove me to the outskirts of the city to show me one of the low-income, informal settlements. It was a place without water or electricity supplies.

It's clear to me that many poor people have relocated to the outskirts as a result of either forced evictions or unaffordable housing prices in the city centre.

My friend described the modernised Phnom Penh as: "A fancy district for the rich on one side of the city, and impoverished slums on the other side. The city is split into two disconnected worlds."
https://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/1757879/
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Mishmash
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Re: Phnom Penh's Poor Paying the Price of Development ?

Post by Mishmash »

The 'iconic' White Building was a shit hole eyesore. Dirty, smelly rat infested slum. A complete fire-hazard as well.

The inhabitants got a good deal from the Japanese real-estate developer responsible for building the Arakawa low cost housing project behind the PP Royal Hospital.

Everyone there COULD have got a brand new modern apartment freehold in many of the developments here, such as OK Condo or Borey 999 if they took the cash on offer.

Which would people rather have - a shit hole or a brand new apartment with modern facilities?

They were holding out for MORE cash - milking it..

Seriously - you can sell these whingers a 10$ bill for 1$ and they would complain it was creased.

This particular plot got resold to Naga3 - you can't stop the march of progress.
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Re: Phnom Penh's Poor Paying the Price of Development ?

Post by Kammekor »

Still, the process as a whole is in full force and can bee seen more and more areas.

Factory workers sharing rooms in the outskirts, pushed outwards more and more, and the (new?) elite sipping lattes the price of 4 hours of (factory)work.

But, Cambodia is not unique in this respect. The only difference is in most cities the government will try to somehow regulate it. The Phnom Penh government (or the National government) couldn't care less so it seems.
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Re: Phnom Penh's Poor Paying the Price of Development ?

Post by Mishmash »

Kammekor wrote: Sat Sep 28, 2019 3:40 pm Still, the process as a whole is in full force and can bee seen more and more areas.

Factory workers sharing rooms in the outskirts, pushed outwards more and more, and the (new?) elite sipping lattes the price of 4 hours of (factory)work.

But, Cambodia is not unique in this respect. The only difference is in most cities the government will try to somehow regulate it. The Phnom Penh government (or the National government) couldn't care less so it seems.
I agree..

There IS a master plan that does have zoning - I have seen it up in the office of the owner of Booyoung Development land along Russian Boulevard.

I wish I had a copy - but the Government does seem to keep it under wraps, as they say 'chancers' and 'professional squatters' will set up a tent on land due for development, or a concrete road coming, and say they have been there since the beginning of time. Personally, like you I am dubious thinking the government insiders will buy the land and resell at a profit.

Most factory workers families own land in the provinces. Yes their income is small from rice farming, but I wished I owned a few hectares like them.

My wife's sister and my niece work in a factory in Chom Chao, and live in some rickety wooden hut at 25$ a month plus electric and water, so I understand your point well.

They would love an apartment offered by the white building eviction or the BKK lake project.

I do pity 'poor people' but most families nowadays have at least some members with the big SUV and sipping the lattes and Cambodia is on the up and up.

Some of my staff at Terrasyss only get $250 to start - yet I see them riding new motos - so blood IS thicker than water.
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Re: Phnom Penh's Poor Paying the Price of Development ?

Post by Kammekor »

Mishmash wrote: Sat Sep 28, 2019 3:57 pm
Kammekor wrote: Sat Sep 28, 2019 3:40 pm Still, the process as a whole is in full force and can bee seen more and more areas.

Factory workers sharing rooms in the outskirts, pushed outwards more and more, and the (new?) elite sipping lattes the price of 4 hours of (factory)work.

But, Cambodia is not unique in this respect. The only difference is in most cities the government will try to somehow regulate it. The Phnom Penh government (or the National government) couldn't care less so it seems.
I agree..

There IS a master plan that does have zoning - I have seen it up in the office of the owner of Booyoung Development land along Russian Boulevard.

I wish I had a copy - but the Government does seem to keep it under wraps, as they say 'chancers' and 'professional squatters' will set up a tent on land due for development, or a concrete road coming, and say they have been there since the beginning of time. Personally, like you I am dubious thinking the government insiders will buy the land and resell at a profit.
I think indeed the main concern of the government is how to make the most out of the land given our for development for themselves, and not let too many people about the details.
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Re: Phnom Penh's Poor Paying the Price of Development ?

Post by Kammekor »

Mishmash wrote: Sat Sep 28, 2019 3:57 pm
My wife's sister and my niece work in a factory in Chom Chao, and live in some rickety wooden hut at 25$ a month plus electric and water, so I understand your point well.

They would love an apartment offered by the white building eviction or the BKK lake project.

I do pity 'poor people' but most families nowadays have at least some members with the big SUV and sipping the lattes and Cambodia is on the up and up.

Some of my staff at Terrasyss only get $250 to start - yet I see them riding new motos - so blood IS thicker than water.
Blood is thicker than water but loads of poor Cambodians are in debt - deep.

And then there's culture... In my village some people live in a wooden shack, with a twenty year old Lexus RX300 or a 15 year old gold colored shiny Camry in front worth more than the shack (well, at least it's worth more in Cambodia) so at least they look 'middle class'. The wooden shack doesn't count, the car does all the work...

Even after nearly 10 years in Cambodia I'm sometimes puzzled. Face is everything so it seems....
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Re: Phnom Penh's Poor Paying the Price of Development ?

Post by Mishmash »

Seems to be the case..

I note the Old Customs and Excise house on Monivong is being replaced by their absolutely massive multi-storey new building directly behind.

Guess they are flush with cash from TAX now and anticipating even more.

Cambodia is booming.

As an aside - I look at the mom and pop shops - sure they look poor as church mice - but hell the land is worth a mint.

When I first moved to Kakap there were a few shop houses and no-one had a car.

Now the connecting road is full of new developments. At least 80% of people here own a big SUV or at least a Prius, and the road is clogged with traffic.

Hell - even the next door beauty salon has a car.

The local traffic cop three doors down rides a clapped out old moto to work in his blue frayed and ragged uniform, but at night he gets in his big SUV and takes his missus shopping.

I have zero idea how they do it - but I don't believe this 'poor' crap.
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Re: Phnom Penh's Poor Paying the Price of Development ?

Post by Jerry Atrick »

CEOCambodiaNews wrote: Sat Sep 28, 2019 1:02 am

Released in Thailand early this month, an award-winning Cambodian documentary film, Last Night I Saw You Smiling, captures the last glimpse of a vibrant residential community in Phnom Penh's iconic White Building before it was closed in 2017.

Cambodian filmmaker Kavich Neang, whose family lived in the state-subsidised apartment building, tells a story of forced eviction in fast-growing Phnom Penh where the poor have little bargaining power to claim their rights. His film shows the buzzing apartment building being gradually demolished after the government handed it over to a Japanese developer.
The white building residents got a small fortune for their apartments. The residents had extremely strong bargaining power, unlike say the Borey Kelia lot, and got full market rate per square metre.

Shite article.
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Re: Phnom Penh's Poor Paying the Price of Development ?

Post by Mishmash »

Kammekor wrote: Sat Sep 28, 2019 4:18 pm
Blood is thicker than water but loads of poor Cambodians are in debt - deep.

And then there's culture... In my village some people live in a wooden shack, with a twenty year old Lexus RX300 or a 15 year old gold colored shiny Camry in front worth more than the shack (well, at least it's worth more in Cambodia) so at least they look 'middle class'. The wooden shack doesn't count, the car does all the work...

Even after nearly 10 years in Cambodia I'm sometimes puzzled. Face is everything so it seems....
Is a mystery to me too...

Kingdom of Wonder..

Up in Modulkiri the government built a new development just for the indigenous population - FREE.

They refused to live there - wanted their old way of life..

Can't do good for doing bad I suppose.

I wish Cambodia all the best and am happy to witness the transformation - and hopefully make a little bit for myself too - nice plot - nice house, sunshine and good friends.
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Re: Phnom Penh's Poor Paying the Price of Development ?

Post by angkorjohn2 »

Mishmash wrote: Sat Sep 28, 2019 3:57 pm
Kammekor wrote: Sat Sep 28, 2019 3:40 pm Still, the process as a whole is in full force and can bee seen more and more areas.

Factory workers sharing rooms in the outskirts, pushed outwards more and more, and the (new?) elite sipping lattes the price of 4 hours of (factory)work.

But, Cambodia is not unique in this respect. The only difference is in most cities the government will try to somehow regulate it. The Phnom Penh government (or the National government) couldn't care less so it seems.
I agree..

There IS a master plan that does have zoning - I have seen it up in the office of the owner of Booyoung Development land along Russian Boulevard.

I wish I had a copy - but the Government does seem to keep it under wraps, as they say 'chancers' and 'professional squatters' will set up a tent on land due for development, or a concrete road coming, and say they have been there since the beginning of time. Personally, like you I am dubious thinking the government insiders will buy the land and resell at a profit.

Most factory workers families own land in the provinces. Yes their income is small from rice farming, but I wished I owned a few hectares like them.

My wife's sister and my niece work in a factory in Chom Chao, and live in some rickety wooden hut at 25$ a month plus electric and water, so I understand your point well.

They would love an apartment offered by the white building eviction or the BKK lake project.

I do pity 'poor people' but most families nowadays have at least some members with the big SUV and sipping the lattes and Cambodia is on the up and up.

Some of my staff at Terrasyss only get $250 to start - yet I see them riding new motos - so blood IS thicker than water.
On a side note MM, talking of the BooYong development, do you know where is that at in terms of development plans? Expected completion date? it seems to have been stop-start, with more stop than start since it's inception over the last 7+ years. I know there are several projects of course that floundered due to financing and poor planning especially around there but considering it is attached to BooYong you would assume it would be a bit embarrassing if it wasn't done considering how many projects broke ground after and were completed earlier
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