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Tycoon compensates 135 families at SEZ

A long-running land dispute between more than 130 families and the company managing the Koh Kong Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is nearing its end, with only seven families left to sign the compensation agreement, officials confirmed yesterday.

The dispute over the SEZ – which is located in Kiri Sakor district and is overseen by a company owned by ruling party senator and tycoon Ly Yong Phat – has dragged on since 2007, and has been marked with numerous clashes and the imprisonment of some community representatives.

Koh Kong Governor Bun Leut and Yong Phat inked an agreement yesterday with 135 families in the district.

“Most of us have accepted the compensation as the company needs to develop here,” said community leader Ream Rom.

The deal comes ahead of the launch later this month of the tycoon’s new TV station PNN.

Residents, Rom added, were awarded up to $20,000 in monetary compensation based on the size of their land.

Only seven of the 135 families rejected the offer, and are demanding compensation of more than $150,000 each,” said Koh Kong SEZ land coordinator chief Sin Sathya.

“It’s too high, but we are still in negotiations,” Sathya said.

According to In Kong Chet, representative of local rights group Licadho, the company also said that it plans to attract investors to the area and offered residents jobs.

“The company changed its behaviour to compromise with the families starting in February,” Kong Chet said.

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