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Opposition lawmaker lambastes Ly Yong Phat

OPPOSITION lawmaker Son Chhay accused the government of complicity in rampant land grabbing by ruling party senator Ly Yong Phat during a celebration of International Human Rights Day yesterday.

In a speech at Sam Rainsy Party headquarters, Son Chhay charged that the government had no will to address the senator’s land grabbing and said the SRP would attempt to raise the issue internationally.

“If there was no participation from the government, Ly Yong Phat’s company could not grab people’s land,” Son Chhay said. “We will tell foreign buyers not to buy Ly Yong Phat’s sugar because this company has grabbed people’s land.”

Ly Yong Phat has been embroiled for months in a land dispute with hundreds of families in Kampong Speu province who say adjoining land concessions granted to the senator and his wife will push them off their land.

At least two villagers in Kampong Speu’s Thpong district have faced criminal charges in relation to the dispute, while at least 14 have been summoned for questioning, according to local rights group Adhoc.

Rights groups met with European Union officials in September after claiming that the Kingdom’s participation in the EU’s “Everything but Arms” trade programme may be fueling evictions by Ly Yong Phat and other tycoons who plan to export sugar to Europe.

Ly Yong Phat could not be reached for comment yesterday. Tith Sothea, spokesman for Council of Ministers’ Press and Quick Reaction Unit, accused Son Chhay and the SRP of “using International Human Rights Day for political benefit”.

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