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Villagers blame rubber company

Villagers in Preah Vihear’s Kulen district are seeking the assistance of rights group Adhoc, claiming a Malaysian rubber company has stopped them from receiving land titles.

Sok Yam, 48, one of the four representatives of the Sro Yong commune residents, said members of 72 families thumbprinted the letter they sent Tuesday to Adhoc, which asserts that Eminent Elite (Cambodia) Co is preventing local authorities from granting them land titles.

After student land-measurement volunteers declared 160 plots of land ranging from one to six hectares each in the area as belonging to villagers, Eminent Elite filed a complaint with the Ministry of Land Management, arguing this land occupies part of a 7,359-hectare economic land concession it received last year.

Since the complaint was filed, local authorities have not distributed land titles to villagers.

“The volunteer students measured the land for us, but the firm made a complaint that our land belongs to the company,” Yam said. “We are worried about losing farming land to the company; if we do, we will not vote for the CPP.”

Kulen district governor Chom Poy said yesterday that volunteers had improperly measured the land. Only 127 plots should belong to villagers, he said.

More than 300 families in other villages were also having land disputes with the Malaysian firm, but have not sought assistance from Adhoc, Yam said.

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