A working team from the Cambodian Youth Party is investigating an alleged coastal land grab by two-star major general Tun Dieth in Smach Ngam village, in Khemarak Phumin city’s Smach Meanchey commune, in Koh Kong province.
Pich Sros, the president of the Cambodian Youth Party and a member of the Supreme Council for Consultation, said on Wednesday that he will visit the disputed area to see if the allegations are true. He will meet the provincial governor to urge authorities to take legal action against the perpetrator.
He said after receiving a complaint from locals, he assigned a team to investigate the alleged planting of posts and sand dredging in the coastal area.
“We will ask for clarification from the provincial government because the filling in of public land must be done through proper procedures, regardless of the [project] owner’s identity and social status.
“We want to know the reason for the filling in. For example, are they filling it for a coastal development with a business licence and how would such filling activity affect the area [and surroundings]?” he asked.
Sros suspected that such coastal filling could have been approved by the local authorities. “[I am] concerned that officials from the relevant authorities are involved in the case. I will continue to monitor our team’s investigation,” he said.
However, Smach Meanchey commune chief Neam Yung denied that his administration had colluded with Tun Dieth to fill in the coastal land.
He said the land has been in Tun Dieth’s possession for years, but the sand filling was only discovered last week because the site is used as a temporary sand storage. Wooden posts were planted a few metres from the beach more than a year ago to install nets to trap waste.
“The district governor told Tun Dieth to move the sand storage from his home in Dang Tong commune to the current location at the area in Smach Meanchey commune.
“As the pipes used to pump sand from the ferry are short, sand is stored a little closer to the beach,” he said, adding that Tun Dieth owns more than half a hectare in the area.
Provincial governor Phouthong Mithona and Tun Dieth’s representative, who is a chief at the Thai-Cambodian border checkpoint, could not be reached for comments.