We protested by blocking the road because we don’t want to leave our land ... because we have lived here since 1979
More than 100 villagers living near Sihanoukville blocked a national road leading to the coastal town yesterday to protest against tycoon Kith Meng’s proposed lakeside ecotourism
development, which they fear will rob them of land they have farmed for decades.
In a letter sent to the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy in March, obtained by The Post yesterday, Kith Meng, president of the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce, requested a 99-year, 82-hectare concession for an ecotourism development on land around the Boeung Prek Tup lake.
“I want to tell you, Minister of Industry, Mines and Energy, that the Boeung Prek Tup area is the biggest freshwater lake in the province and [the lakeside] covers about 82 hectares,” the letter stated. Kith Meng, who is also chairman and chief executive officer of the Royal Group, said in the letter that the Boeung Prek Tup lakeside had not been protected and that his company had the skills and budget to invest in the area.
Sak Sophal, a representative of villagers from around the Boeung Prek Tup lake in Mittapheap district’s Commune 3, said residents had blocked National Road 4 yesterday for about three hours in order to appeal to Prime Minister Hun Sen for intervention.
“We protested by blocking the road because we don’t want to leave our land … because we have lived here since 1979,” he said, adding that villagers would continue to protest until a resolution was reached.
Residents blocked the road until police and military police officials moved them to the side in order to reduce traffic jams, Sak Sophal said.
Commune 3 chief Kan Loeng said yesterday that he did not plan to intervene on behalf of the villagers because they had refused to listen to the authorities.
“They didn’t listen to us when we told them we will intervene with their problem,” he said. “They need help from Prime Minister Hun Sen.”
Kith Meng could not be reached for comment yesterday.