Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ELC holders put onus for disputes on gov’t

ELC holders put onus for disputes on gov’t

Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon talks to reporters in Phnom Penh yesterday after a meeting with ELC grantees. Photo supplied
Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon talks to reporters in Phnom Penh yesterday after a meeting with ELC grantees. Photo supplied

ELC holders put onus for disputes on gov’t

Recently appointed Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon held a first-ever meeting with economic land concession (ELC) grantees yesterday and was promptly met with a barrage of complaints.

The local and foreign businesspeople present called on the Agriculture Ministry – which was handed responsibility for ELCs in a swap with the Environment Ministry earlier this year – to do more to quell discontent among people displaced by concessions.

Lim Heng, director of the Ly Heng Group, said the communities living on his ELCs viewed the company as their enemy.

“We are experiencing conflicts with the community. Why? Because no announcements have been made to them,” Heng said. “The ministry or the state should have told them about the benefits and positive points of ELCs, so they would understand that our investment is for the national economic growth and in the local people’s interest.”

Heng suggested the ministry produce video spots to raise awareness of the benefits of ELCs and the company’s right to use and cultivate the land before handing it to the state at the end of its 50-year lease.

Heng Sarat, a representative of TTY Agriculture in Kratie province, said that government officials returning land to evicted families had considerably weakened the original investment of the company, owned by businessman Na Mardy.

He said the company was originally granted 9,870 hectares, but is now left with only 215, adding that families protesting for land had brought TTY’s operations to a standstill.

“We have many difficulties in clearing the land. They protest immediately after we deploy our vehicles to clear it. The number of families [protesting] increases until we cannot do anything. [Even] the people who have already been granted land continue to join the protests with the newcomers,” he said, adding that TTY had invested a substantial amount in local infrastructure.

Sakhon promised to address the concerns raised at the meeting. “For more than 10 years already, the ministry has observed how to solve problems effectively,” Sakhon said. “For the last few months my team and I have put a lot of effort into solving problems.”

A 2015 report on land rights by NGO Adhoc found in that many cases ELCs had “adversely impacted local residents livelihoods and/or were responsible for significant environmental degradation”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,

  • Cambodia's poverty cut in half from 2009 to 2019: World Bank report

    A report published by the World Bank on November 28 states that Cambodia’s national poverty rate fell by almost half between 2009 and 2019, but the Covid-19 pandemic recently reversed some of the poverty reduction progress. Cambodia’s poverty rate dropped from 33.8 to 17.8 per cent over the 10