Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Authorities accused of ignoring logging




Authorities accused of ignoring logging

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Ethnic villagers in Dak Dam Commune protested at Chrey Thom Waterfall resort last week. Supplied

Authorities accused of ignoring logging

Bunong indigenous residents in Dak Dam commune in Mondulkiri province’s O’Raing district have accused the authorities of ignoring the clearing of community forest land at Chrey Thom waterfall resort and a local cemetery despite repeated complaints since 2017.

Chrot Khloeut, a resident of Dak Dam commune’s Pou Les village, told The Post on Monday that the cemetery and waterfall resort cover 328ha of forest land in Pou Les, Pou Treng and Pou Chhorb villages.

He said people from different provinces had come to clear the land for private ownership since 2017 and that it was continuing to this day.

Authorities have failed to tackle the problem, Khloeut said, even though residents have made several complaints to the provincial hall and even protested.

He said that originally when people came to clear the land, they persuaded the local authorities to issue a letter recognising their private ownership, despite indigenous residents having used part of the public land as a cemetery since 1979 and the waterfall resort being recognised by the provincial hall in 2016.

“We are not trying to claim private ownership of the land. It belongs to the state, but they don’t listen. They say we want to grab the land. If you look through the global positioning system, over 4ha of the waterfall land and 1ha of the cemetery has been taken,” Khloeut said.

However, provincial hall spokesperson Sok Sera said the provincial hall had not received any complaints and suggested that perhaps they had only been filed at O’Raing district.

“I did not see the complaints at the provincial hall. I am unaware of them. When we receive complaints, the provincial hall does not stay quiet, it always goes to inspect the site and address the matter accordingly,” he said.

Indigenous resident Boret Kampi said many indigenous residents had filed complaints to the provincial hall since 2017 after four or five families from different provinces came to clear the community land.

He said the residents had also frequently made enquires to find out what action has been taken in response.

Kampi said that he later discovered that the provincial hall had endorsed the complaints and sent them to the district hall to deal with.

District hall officials, he said, had come to inspect the land, but no measures were taken to solve the situation.

On Friday, Kampi said, some 80 residents had gathered to protest again to stop the ongoing land clearance and reclaim the lost land but to no avail.

“Officials from the district hall have come here a few times, but weren’t able to resolve anything – and the provincial hall says there were no complaints whatsoever. I wonder why?” he said.

O’Raing district governor Nong Tunnary denied that the authorities had ignored the land disputes and said the authorities had solved some already, but the indigenous residents remained dissatisfied.

He declined to say who was right or wrong – because both sides have documents certified by former and current authorities – but said he would strive to get to the root of the problem so it can be solved.

“We cannot solve it exactly as they want. We are doing it step by step. We have asked the involved parties to put a stop to any activity on the disputed land. We are not ignoring them. They say we don’t care, but in fact, we have cared enough to have already made compromises many times,” Tunnary said.

Eang Mengly, the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, wondered why the former authorities had issued a letter certifying the community land as privately owned, when he said that, on behalf of the local authorities, they have the right to revoke any land belonging to the state.

“In the past, the authorities seem to have pushed the matter back and forth – they don’t seem to have any intention of solving it at all. From my point of view, they are avoiding addressing the case,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Four more UN troops infected by Covid virus

    Four more Cambodian Blue Helmet peacekeepers in Mali have been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, bringing the number of infected Cambodian UN peacekeepers to 10. National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces and Explosive Remnants of War deputy director-general and spokeswoman Kosal Malinda told The Post on Tuesday

  • Seniority payments postponed

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training announced on Monday the postponement of seniority payments for workers prior to 2019 and new seniority payments for workers in 2020, opting to implement them next year instead. The ministry also asked more than 25,000 workers in the garment and tourism

  • Garment sector requests EU to postpone EBA withdrawal

    Representatives of apparel, footwear and travel goods producers and the EU business community in the Kingdom on Tuesday requested the European Commission (EC) to postpone its withdrawal of the Everything But Arms (EBA) preferential trade scheme for 12 months. The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC),

  • Regions prepare to spread wings again

    As cases of Covid-19 begin to taper, it is natural that business travellers in the Asia-Pacific will want to fly again. For a region where trade anchors prosperity, this is as essential as reopening schools, shops and offices. Singapore has started talks with China, Malaysia,

  • ‘Angkor-era Holy Cow’ discovered in Preah Vihear

    A sacred statue of a cow that was discovered on an ancient hill in Preah Vihear province on Saturday is being kept at the local museum following a short ceremony on Monday. The statue of Preah Ko (Holy Cow) was discovered by a local villager