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Kandal villagers petition ministry in HAC dispute

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Villagers from Kandal province, locked in a land dispute, protest outside the Land Ministry on Monday in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

Kandal villagers petition ministry in HAC dispute

Thirty villagers from Kandal province, representing 292 families who are locked in a land dispute with the Heng Akphivath Company (HAC), petitioned the Ministry of Land Management on Monday, seeking to obtain land titles.

HAC, meanwhile, said it will request the ministry’s help to organise a public forum to bring an end to the dispute.

The families, from Kandal Steung district’s Prek Hou, Choeung Keub, Apil Prey and Kantork communes, filed the petition seeking intervention from Minister Chea Sophara.

“We request His Excellency [Sophara] to intervene in the land dispute over 450 hectares . . . in order to ask for land titles for 292 families,” their petition states.

However, HAC also said they will request Sophara to organise and hold a forum to solve the matter. Sieng Chanheng, who owns HAC, wrote on Facebook: “We are preparing to request the Ministry of Land Management to open a public forum to confront each other fairly, and if it is found the company grabbed the land of the 292 families, we will hand it back and accept punishment before the law.

“But, if there is no proof showing that the company has grabbed the land of the 292 families, the law should help restore our company’s reputation and dignity which those 292 families have damaged.”

In February, almost 200 people from the four communes in Kandal province protested at Kandal Provincial Hall, seeking help from the governor to provide a solution after six of their representatives were charged with incitement.

Earlier the same month, about 100 villagers from Prek Sleng commune in Kandal Steung district, who claimed the land to be theirs, blocked the company from clearing it to build a dam near an airport development project.

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