Five people from Kampong Phluk village were injured after a violent protest erupted over the election of a new committee to support boating tourism in Siem Reap’s Bakong district on Saturday.
The election followed a complaint made by villagers in April, claiming the Sou Ching Port Investment Company, a tourist boat operator, was taking work from the community through their ticketing sales, according to Neoung Ny, the commune chief.
The government issued a letter to the company ordering they stop operations at the site.
However, as more than 300 villagers from the commune arrived to vote on a committee to oversee ticketing affairs and represent the community, 250 villagers from Siem Reap’s surrounding communes – mostly from Chong Khneas floating village – also protested.
“Villagers from other communes came to protest, holding banners.… They used rocks and a knife to attack our villagers,” commune chief Ny said.
Chan Van, a villager in Kampong Phluk, believed the Sou Ching Company persuaded neighbouring communes to orchestrate the protest.
“They used the residents’ power to protest,” he said.
“They didn’t want us to select a chamber of tourism boats and benefit from selling tickets at the tourism site”.
Min Chantha, Bakong district police chief, said the authorities are eager to arrest those who instigated the protest.
Bun Tharith, deputy provincial governor and a representative for the voting authority, said the provincial government has temporarily stopped voting, but plans for it to resume in the future.