The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has issued a letter clarifying allegations by Ly Oum Eng, the director of Ly Oum Eng Co Ltd and a member of the Cambodian Red Cross in Siem Reap province, about a piece of land in Siem Reap city.
The ANA said Ly Oum Eng had encroached on the authority’s land in Siem Reap city’s Slakram commune. But it said Oum Eng claims the land is hers, divided it for sale and built a sales office there to sell off plots.
On August 9, the authority set a one-week deadline for Oum Eng to dismantle the office but said she had failed to comply.
The ANA said in its clarification letter that in 2016, the government had decided to grant land in the Borey Hotel area to residents who had occupied and grown crops on the site, but an inter-ministerial committee had not yet addressed the policy.
At the time, the authority said, Oum Eng and her relatives filed lawsuits and applied to relevant institutions to be granted ownership of the land.
However, their requests were denied and the government finally decided in principle to register the land as state property, the ANA said. Despite this, it said Oum Eng still intended to take control of the land.
Oum Eng claimed she had a letter authorising occupation and other official documentation, and put the blame on the ANA, it said.
The ANA further said that under Sub-decree 158 issued in 2016, Oum Eng was granted more than 17ha of land in the area.
ANA spokesman Long Kosal told The Post on Tuesday that despite being granted this land, Oum Eng intended to intrude further on neighbouring land that belonged to the authority.
Kosal said it was the inter-ministerial committee’s duty to solve the land dispute with the residents, not the ANA’s. The ANA would, therefore, protect the land and not allow anyone to intrude on it, he added.
Oum Eng could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. But some time ago, she told a local media outlet that some ANA officials had provided a report to the top leadership that falsely claimed that the authority had already compensated her for the plots of land, when in fact she had not received a cent.
Oum Eng said if the courts find any documentation proving that she has received the money, she would go to prison of her own accord. She said she had filed a lawsuit with the Siem Reap provincial court which had issued a protection warrant.
But the case moved on to the Appeal Court which was yet to issue a verdict, Oum Eng said.
“There are enough documents such as land titles, buying and selling letters and acknowledgement letters from many other relevant authorities to fight the case in the courts with the ANA.
“I ask the ANA to be patient and let the courts decide who will win or lose. I don’t need to dismantle my office because it’s not going to run away,” she said.
Kosal denied Oum Eng’s claims: “Her Excellency’s documents are not up-to-date. They have expired,” he said.
Cambodian Red Cross Disaster Management Department director Uy Sam Ath confirmed to The Post on Tuesday that Oum Eng was a Cambodian Red Cross member in the province.
However, he said the dispute could only be solved by the relevant authorities as the Cambodian Red Cross had no remit to interfere.
He said that if Oum Eng had indeed occupied the land lawfully, the authorities would seek justice for her, but if she had intruded on state land, it was her responsibility.
“Let the authorities and the police take the necessary action. We are not taking sides. It’s a case involving Her Excellency and is her concern,” Sam Ath said.