MORE than 50 families have threatened to storm a 187-hectare swath of land in Ratanakkiri province’s Bokeo district today after police restricted access to it over the weekend.
The families have been selling resin from the land since 1988, when it was granted to them by the government. In 2006, however, the land was sold to the Tay Seng Rubber Company, which the families have accused of offering unreasonably low prices for resin.
After the families threatened to sell resin to other firms at higher prices, police came to the site and have denied them access to it since Saturday, representatives of the families said.
“We will have to go to the rubber plantation [today] to make resin even though the armed men are telling us not to make it. We need to make it because we need money to buy rice and food for our families,” representative Kim Sok said.
“Tay Seng has always prevented us from selling resin to other companies, but their company is too cheap. How can we sell it to them when they offer such a low price?”
He noted that whereas other companies were willing to pay up to 35 million riels (US$8,293) per tonne of resin, Tay Seng was only willing to pay 20 million riels.
Company representative Chhoun Ponlok defended the rate yesterday, and said Tay Seng had no plan to compensate the families for their land because “the government has handed it over to the company to invest”.
Bun Uy, a secretary of state at the Council of Ministers, said yesterday that he had recently signed a letter ordering the families to leave, and that the development of the land by Tay Seng had Prime Minister Hun Sen’s approval.