Sre Ambel district authorities in Koh Kong province are investigating a case involving a former district police chief who is allegedly encroaching on forest land in Dang Peng commune’s Veal Pouch village.
District governor Chea Chankanha said on August 10 that at a meeting discussing land clearing accusations against former Sre Ambel police chief Mar Ty on August 7, he took the step of assigning officials to investigate the matter.
“I cannot tell you what happened, because our officials are now investigating and it would be inappropriate to discuss it until they report back, but I’ll let you know later,” he said.
Dang Peng commune chief Ty Yourng said on August 10 that the land clearing activity was happening at the border of Dang Peng and Chi Khor Leu communes.
Chi Khor Leu commune chief Sun Kheang said he went to the site with district authorities on August 10, but he did not know how the case should be resolved.
He said that the land at that location was allocated by the provincial authorities to people who were already relying on it previously, but the allocation was done improperly without land titles.
“When I asked the province to allocate land to these people, it was more than 3,000 ha total, including the multi-use areas, forest cover and corridor projects nearby. Most of the affected people have cashew plantations,” he said.
Koh Kong provincial deputy governor and spokesman Sok Sothy said on August 10 that he too was awaiting the results of the investigation undertaken by the district authorities.
“There is a sub-decree to allocate the land for these people. But the problem is that the subsequent development of the land occurred without any permission from the provincial authorities.
“The land is not in any national park and it is not state land, because the government had already cut it out and made it available for private ownership. This means that it might actually be his land – he may have bought it from those people,” he said, referring to Mar Ty and residents in the area.
He said the owner needs to apply for a land title before they develop the land and they must then develop it properly without encroaching on other people’s lands.
Mar Ty could not be reached for comment.