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Director of national park accused of Koh Kong land grab

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The location of land dispute case in Botum Sakor district of Koh Kong province in 2020. FB

Director of national park accused of Koh Kong land grab

Sak Setha, permanent secretary of state for the Ministry of Interior, issued a letter requesting that Koh Kong provincial governor Mithona Phuthong resolve a dispute over more than 5ha of land between the director of the Botum Sakor National Park and a resident.

The letter informed Phuthong that an Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) department tasked with preventing the destruction of natural resources and protecting civil rights had written to the ministry, requesting an intervention by the provincial administration in resolving dispute between Ly Seng and Ung Vanny, the park’s director.

The land in question totals 52,700sqm and is located in Thma Sar commune’s Chamlong Kor village of Botum Sakor district.

“Therefore, the interior ministry requests that the provincial governor arrange to inspect, study and resolve this issue based on legal principles,” the letter read.

Chea Hean, director of the local environment watchdog ACNCIPO, told The Post on May 11 that the land in dispute had been cut off from the Botum Sakor National Park by the government for allocation to people affected by a development project of Union Development Group.

“Later, the director of the national park added the name of his wife to the land title. This is the land of people who have occupied it for a long time. Nobody else ever came to live on it, but Vanny added his wife’s name with the intention of taking Ly Seng’s land,” he said.

Hean added that provincial authorities had already studied the dispute, but Vanny had claimed the land was to be used as a sub-headquarters of the Botum Sakor National Park. But when the case was investigated, it turned out that the land was not for a sub-headquarters because his wife, a private citizen, was listed as its owner.

“His plan was to encroach on Ly Seng’s land by pretending that the state was behind the occupation. Provincial authorities have not yet taken any action,” he said.

Vanny denied the allegations on May 11, saying that if anyone wanted to know more about the dispute, they should meet with the commune, district and provincial authorities.

Deputy provincial governor Sok Sothy said on May 11 that the provincial administration had not yet received the letter, while Thma Sar commune chief Ek Kuon could not be reached for comment.

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