Koh Kong provincial governor Phouthong Mithona told The Post on Tuesday that her team is preparing a review report following an inspection of the site of illegal coastal reclamation in Sre Ambel district’s Chroy Svay commune.
Last week, provincial deputy governor Sok Sothy indicated that land clearing activity has been going on since the previous government’s mandate in the area, which the locals commonly call “Puy Chin Tong”.
Without specifying the size of the reclaimed territory, Sothy said he was unable to identify the “perpetrators” involved in the encroachment case.
The Post could not reach Sothy for comment on Tuesday.
Regarding the report, Mithona said: “It [the preparation] is ongoing but may take some time before we figure out how to resolve the matter. Because the dispute concerns the local communities and the solution-seeking process involves them, we have to review the case thoroughly."
Creating a petition
Mean Prom Mony, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc said on Tuesday that the Chroy Svay commune chief had, “within a span of two to three days”, collected signatures and thumbprints from the villagers who represent the communities.
“The petition was created to reclaim the filled-in site and request that it serves the public interest by constructing a boat jetty for the local fishermen,” he noted, advocating that there must be transparency in the whole process.
Prom Mony said access to the reclamation site was blocked recently for the ordinary residents and that several people were put in place to guard it.
He alleged that “only several representatives who had benefited from the owner have gone in and out of there”.
Speaking to The Post on condition of anonymity for fear of “threats from the powerful”, a community representative confirmed that they were asked to thumbprint a letter requesting the coastal site be designated as a public space, including a fishermen’s dock.
However, he said, the locals “were not satisfied” with the commune chief’s initiative.
“The site used to be owned by the state, now it belongs to an oknha [tycoon]. There are plenty of fish and snails around the area where the fishermen used to go. But since development began there, they are not even allowed to go across it,” the representative said.
The Post could not reach Chroy Svay commune chief Bun Re for comment on the matter.
Another villager who asked not to be named said the site had “two or three” representatives who “benefited from the owner”.
They are authorised to respond to the reporters’ inquiries, and that other than them, no one else is allowed to access the site, he said.
Last week, a villager alleged that the mangrove territory was filled by one Huor Hab, “someone with a senior position in the provincial administration”.