Tycoon Lang Pheara received 13.4 hectares at Boeng Tamok in a January sub-decree issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen and released publicly on Monday.
The newly allocated land is located in Kork Roka and Poansaing commune in Prek Phnov district in Phnom Penh.
Pheara, who did not respond to requests for comment, had already jointly received 20.5 hectares of land in Boeung Tamok with Hun Sen’s sister Hun Seng Ny in December of 2021.
Portions of Boeng Tamok, one of Phnom Penh’s last remaining natural lakes, have been granted piecemeal for the past few years to local businessmen, companies and other politically well-connected individuals.
At least 2,244 hectares of the lake’s 3,239 hectares have been filled in with sand, according to Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT), an urban land rights NGO in Phnom Penh. The land-fills followed a 2016 sub-decree that allowed the government to rent or sell land in and around Boeng Tamok.
The lake’s boundaries were demarcated in 2016, when the Royal Government declared 3239.7 hectares of Boeng Tamok as state public property. The demarcations have since been revised at least 17 times, according to STT.
There are around 300 families surrounding the lake, many of whom earn a living through fishing and aquaculture farming. A third of these families live in makeshift shelters, STT reports. Some residents who have protested their expected evictions face criminal charges.
“The government should reconsider and reassess the impacts on local people before ceding to individuals because it’s a huge lake that provides many benefits through fishing, planting lotuses and farming,” said STT Executive Director Soeung Saran.
“The lake can help withstand flooding in the city as well.”
He said thousands of people still lean on the lake for food subsistence, raising concerns about the impact of the on-going land grants for development in the area.
“It can result in the loss of benefits for people’s livelihood,” he added. “In addition, environmental impacts are also expected to increase.”