A round 100 former workers from a local brick and roof-tile maker gathered at its offices in Chak Angre Krom commune, in the Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district, each seeking $4,000 amid claims that the former chief of accounting had sold off land that belonged to the community.
The workers were representatives of some 330 other former staff members.
You Sarith, who represented the workers at the Angkor brick-making factory, which closed in 2000, alleged that in 1992 the former chief of accounting, Hem Reang, sold three ponds that had been used for communal fish farming since 1980.
Chin Kung, a former employee at Angkor, said the ponds were for employees at the factory to raise fish and grow water plants. Two of the ponds had been filled in, he said, adding that each pond measured about one hectare.
Villagers had settled on the land after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, but they had not received the titles to it, Kung said.
Sarith said that when they first discovered the ponds had been sold, they simply sought to have the sale voided.
“At first we demanded the land be returned to the communities. But later we demanded compensation of $4,000 for each of the 330 who lived on that land and were still alive.
“We also demanded $2,000 each for 70 workers who had since died,” Sarith said.
Kung said that the prolonged dispute had left the workers frustrated.
“We will not drop our demands because this case has been going on for too long. We call on Samdech Hun Sen to help us resolve this problem because the authorities at almost all levels have failed us,” Kung said.
Reang, the former chief accountant, could not be reached on Wednesday, while information on the buyer, Lim Sina, was not available.
Ministry of Land Management spokesman Seng Lou declined comment and told The Post to address questions to Phnom Penh City Hall officers instead.
“I don’t want to provide any information. I am afraid that you might misquote me. Please go ahead and ask the officials at Phnom Penh City Hall instead,” he said.
City Hall spokesman, Meth Measpheakdey, said the case was old, and that all attempts to resolve it had failed.
“We want to find a solution for the affected people, but both parties have refused all solutions,” Measpheakdey said.