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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PM claims land scheme win

PM claims land scheme win

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Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks to a group of student volunteers charged with measuring land as part of the government’s land-titling scheme in August 2012. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post

An ambitious government land-titling policy, announced last May amid escalating concerns about evictions and economic land concessions (ELCs), has been a resounding success, Prime Minister Hun Sen claimed yesterday during his final provincial trip to distribute titles.

A cavalcade of about 100 cars, containing members of the politburo and other government officials, tailed the prime minister to Kong Kong, a province where ELCs have fuelled disputes.

“This was the last day of my mission travelling to 20 provinces to hand over land title certificates, which began on September 21. The next handover ceremony will be conducted by a representative of mine,” Hun Sen said, handing out more than 500 titles.

“With the participation of villagers nationwide, local authorities and the armed forces, we have carried out a successful land policy.”

According to the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction website, almost 110,000 land title certificates have been distributed to villagers across the country since volunteer students, who were deployed in army fatigues last June, began measuring land. So far, almost 480,000 hectares have been demarcated.

The second batch of volunteers, who were sent to various provinces on January 15, have been given the goal of measuring more than one million hectares before the national election in July and two million by April of next year.

Rights groups have welcomed the initiative but say it falls short of addressing land disputes because contested areas are not demarcated.

During his speech in Thmar Bang district yesterday, Hun Sen criticised an unnamed opposition party activist he said had campaigned against student land-measurers.

“This guy has criticised [us] for measuring land, saying we’re doing it to collect tax. This guy also received a land title certificate [from us],” he said.  

Opposition lawmaker Yim Sovann, spokesman for the Cambodian National Rescue Party, told the Post the opposition has not seen any negative impacts from the CPP’s land policy.

“Our view is to support policies that benefit Cambodian people, but we oppose all form of violence against villagers and anything that makes them lose their benefits,” he said.

Koul Panha, executive director of election monitoring NGO Comfrel, said the government’s land policy would help it attract more voters in the upcoming national election in July.

“But some voters are still in dispute over giant land economic concessions,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Vong Sokheng at sokheng.vong@phnompenhpost.com

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