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Governor ambushed over dispute

About 100 indigenous villagers from Ratanakkiri’s Veun Sai district took the opportunity at a public forum yesterday to demand a solution from the district governor, Chum Ngel, over a land dispute they are locked in with SK Plantation, after protesting several times without getting a response.

Leang Doung, 45, a representative of the villagers, said that inhabitants of five villages in Phnom Kuk commune last week removed 50 posts that the plantation company had allegedly placed in their land to divide it from their claim, he said.

Three times they protested and filed complaints to the governor, never receiving a reply.

Doung said the forum had been held for other reasons, but for the inhabitants it posed an opportunity to address their unsolved issue directly to local authorities.

Villager Lau Noy, 30, agreed.
“We have had the land dispute for a few years without getting an answer. We waited . . . but now we asked him directly at the public forum. We hope the authority will not ignore our problem,” Noy said.

In 2012, 8,000 hectares of land were granted to SK Plantation (Cambodia) Ltd in Veun Sai and Kon Mom districts. The company could not be reached yesterday.

Ngel said yesterday he would have the land examined. “We don’t know exactly when, but I promised to send the official to find a solution,” he said.

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