Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

Hun Sen Speaks Out About Phnom Penh Houses Confiscated by Construction Company

A house of residents living in Borey Piphup Thmey Kamboul 3, which was confiscated by the company Borey Piphup Thmey, located in Kamboul district, Phnom Penh. Photo taken on June 7, 2023. CamboJA / Den Seymar
A house of residents living in Borey Piphup Thmey Kamboul 3, which was confiscated by the company Borey Piphup Thmey, located in Kamboul district, Phnom Penh. Photo taken on June 7, 2023. CamboJA / Den Seymar

A group of over 1,000 families in Phnom Penh effectively advocated for the Prime Minister to speak out after they say the construction company Borey Piphup Thmey violated their contracts and seized their homes.

On Friday, during a meeting with nearly 20,000 workers in Kampong Chhnang province, Prime Minister Hun Sen asked the owner of the company to stop confiscating the houses and rearrange installment payments to help residents experiencing financial problems.

“[The company] must invite the owners of the houses that the company had confiscated to come and talk, leading to the return of the houses with kindness and generosity and use a win-win [method] as a basis,” he said.

The homes are located in Borey Piphup Thmey Kamboul in Thmar Da village, Kantouk commune, Kamboul district. Some families say they cannot currently afford their payments because of economic hardships, and want the company to repurchase their houses back at 50% of what they have already paid, an option that is included in their contracts. Community representatives also said that when they bought their houses, the company administration told them the company would repurchase the houses at 50%.

But the company has not bought back the houses. Representatives of the families say the company locked up their homes and put up confiscation notices after families were late making payments. Some families have already paid installments for three to five years.

The company warned the home-buyers that it would take legal action if residents opposed the company’s decision to confiscate the homes, residents said. Some residents have received fines for not making payments after the company refused to buy back the houses.

The company did not respond to a Facebook message request for comment in time publication of this story. A person who answered the phone number on their company Facebook page refused to identify themselves and said he was no longer a staff member of the company.

Borey Piphup Thmey Kamboul’s office is located in Thmar Da village, Kantouk commune, Kamboul district, Phnom Penh. Photo taken on June 7, 2023. CamboJA / Den Seymar

Resident Prak Seng Ho said she has already paid the company for 33 months, but now cannot afford the payments for her house. She asked the company to buy her house back, in line with the contract and what the company has done with past customers. But the company refused, she said, and she is now late on the last three months of payments.  

“Now, Borey [the company] came to inform me and put the notice, giving me seven days to remove all of my stuff and leave the house,” she said. “I am worried and afraid that the company will confiscate the house I am living in and I beg Samdech Prime Minister…and officials at all levels to find justice for me as well as other people soon.”

The company continues to put a confiscation notice on her house, she said, and has not found a solution for her to keep the house.

Another resident, Heng Dara, said that when he decided to sell his house back to the company, the company changed its policy and did not notify him as the owner. He has now failed to make payments for 100 days, and said the company’s lawyer told him to move out within seven days.

“I bought a house in installments in the Borey Piphup Thmey Kamboul five years ago, and due to the economic crisis, I have been unable to pay on time,” he said. “The Borey [company] has informed me to move out of the house.”

The representatives of the people collected the thumbprints of the residents and asked ministry officials as well as Prime Minister Hun Sen to intervene immediately. According to Seng Ho, the families reached out in the past three times to Kamboul District Governor Khim Sunsoda to intervene but the dispute had not been resolved.

On May 15, 2023, representatives asked for intervention again from the district governor, requesting he to talk to the company and tell it to buy the houses back from people who cannot afford the payments.

A meeting between the representatives of the people living in Borey Piphup Thmey Kamboul with the representatives of the Borey Piphup Thmey company at the Kamboul district hall on the afternoon of June 7, 2023, chaired by Khim Sunsoda, governor of Kamboul district. (supplied)

In response, on Wednesday afternoon last week, Khim Sunsoda held an emergency meeting with stakeholders in Thmar Da village to discuss the request.

According to the minutes of the meeting, Borey Piphup Thmey company representative Sem Hour said that the company’s policy is to buy back houses at 50%, but only if the contract that the company made with the customer included a condition to buy the house back.

Residents asked at the meeting that the company stop placing fines on customers who are late on payments while the group is requesting intervention from the district authorities and until there is an appropriate solution.

After hearing the remarks from both sides in the meeting, the district governor informed the people’s representatives that the district administration would write a letter to the company owner asking the company to buy back the homes. He said he would ask for a temporary suspension of the foreclosures on customers who are unable to pay the company.

Khim Sunsoda told CamboJA that on Thursday of last week he had asked an official to write a letter to the owner of the Borey Piphup Thmey, requesting that it suspend the confiscation of the houses and wait for a peaceful solution.

“Regarding the concerns of the people living in Borey Piphup Thmey Kamboul, other senior officials and I are paying the utmost attention to find a win-win situation for both the company and the people in accordance with the policies of Samdech Techo Hun Sen, prime minister and the father of peace of Cambodia.