On page 4 of your edition on August 10, a May Titthara report was headlined “Police employ guns and batons to drive villagers from disputed land” regarding the incident that occurred in a rubber plantation in Kampong Cham province contains mistakes.
As the consultant appointed by the Royal Government of Cambodia to conduct resettlement plan implementation consulting services in the seven privatised state-owned rubber estates, I would like to make some clarifications and provide readers with accurate information.
After the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979, all rubber plantations were repatriated into state hands, and the land on which they were built had the status of state land. The state-owned rubber estates were established as autonomous state-owned enterprises in 1999, and the land on which they were operating became “private state land”.
Over years, workers and farmers have encroached on the plantation land, illegally establishing plantations, building houses and farming. Further to the privatisation of the Boeung Ket state-owned rubber estate at the end of 2007, Long Sreng International received the right to operate on the total surface of the private state land of the plantation.
At the same time a resettlement plan was drafted with the support of ADB to compensate the people living and/or farming on the private state land. The principle of compensation retained is based on compensation of permanent crops in orchards and in relocation of the concerned people in a new village in the plantation.
There is no compensation for the land, as it is and has always been state land. Information related to the resettlement plan was relayed to relevant people, and those having planted non-permanent crops were informed to collect their crops at maturity and to stop farming state land. In mid-2009 the implementation of the resettlement plan started, and to date all permanent crop holders have been successfully compensated. Permanent residents are in the process to be registered for a relocation site.
Therefore, the article misleads readers by giving the impression the private company is grabbing the land from farmers. How could these farmers be the legal owner of state land? They could not produce any official documents to support their claim.
SOFRECO regional representative,
team leader for the Resettlement Plan Implementation Consulting Services, Phnom Penh
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