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Land dispute petition in search of a ministry

Villagers from Koh Kong province march at the National Assembly yesterday over disputes with a local sugar company.
Villagers from Koh Kong province march at the National Assembly yesterday over disputes with a local sugar company. Hong Menea

Land dispute petition in search of a ministry

One hundred Koh Kong land dispute claimants were bounced between various branches of government in the capital yesterday as they sought a response to a petition filed four months ago urging a rapid resolution of their dispute.

Representing 147 families from Botum Sakor and Sre Ambel districts, the disputants claim to have lost land to economic land concessions (ELCs) granted to companies owned by ruling party Senator Ly Yong Phat and tycoon Heng Huy. Representatives of both companies were not reachable for comment.

Community representative Phav Nhueng yesterday said that everywhere the petitioners turned, they were told to follow up their complaint elsewhere.

“The National Assembly told us it had sent the case to the Ministry of Environment,” community representative Phav Nhueng said.

“When we came to the Ministry of Environment, they said it has already been sent back to the National Assembly and only the Ministry of Agriculture has the authority to solve the case. The authorities have pushed the case back and forth; it’s almost driven me crazy,” he said.

The Environment Ministry received the petition on November 23 – three months after it was lodged with the National Assembly – and sent it back to parliament on December 9, ministry spokesman Eang Sophalleth said, adding that responsibility for ELCs was handed to the Agriculture Ministry earlier this year.

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