Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Koh Kong locals seek land’s return

Koh Kong locals seek land’s return

Protesters gather at the Sre Ambel District Hall to submit a petition calling for the return of land they lost to an ELC in 2006. Photo supplied
Protesters gather at the Sre Ambel District Hall to submit a petition calling for the return of land they lost to an ELC in 2006. Photo supplied

Koh Kong locals seek land’s return

Representatives of 526 Koh Kong families hopped on their motos on Friday morning to deliver petitions to their district town halls calling for the return of land taken from them by a 2006 economic land concession (ELC), as well as compensation for lost crops.

In 2006, a 2,239-hectare ELC in Sre Ambel and Botum Sakor districts was handed to the Koh Kong Sugar Industry Company, then part-owned by CPP Senator Ly Yong Phat.

The next year, a US Embassy cable would accuse Yong Phat of using his pull with the army to have military police officers “grab land from villagers and to clear their lands by burning down their crops and trees”.

Ensuing violence saw two villagers shot. Yong Phat sold his share in the company in 2010, and his spokesman yesterday declined to comment on the situation.

The eviction has become what Eang Vuthy, executive director of land rights NGO Equitable Cambodia, yesterday characterised as “one of [Cambodia’s] oldest land disputes”.

“I think people are hopeless,” said Vuthy. “But the recent government announcements, especially by the prime minister, mean people are now trying to reach out to the government.”

Oam Phon, a representative of the aggrieved villagers, said Friday’s protesters carried banners bearing slogans such as “Samdech Hun Sen, please find justice for all of us”.

“We think Samdech [Hun Sen] is our second father,” Phon explained.

The prime minister’s intervention on the side of the evicted in recent weeks – such as dispatching his sons to secure bail for two detained land disputants in Kampong Speu – has seemingly ignited hope among Cambodians who lost land to ELCs, triggering fresh petitions from displaced villagers.

District officials were unreachable for comment yesterday.

MOST VIEWED

  • Research key to Kanitha’s rep for expertise

    Sok Kanitha is used to weighing in on controversial issues using a confident approach that signals expertise and authority, and a recent video she made was no exception. Her “Episode 342: The History of NATO” video went live on January 16, 2023 and immediately shot to 30,000 likes and 3,500

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Artificial insemination takes herd from 7 to 700

    Some farms breed local cows or even import bulls from a broad for the purpose of breeding heavier livestock for meat production. One Tbong Khnum farmer has found a more efficient way. Hout Leang employs artificial insemination to fertilise local cows. Thanks to imported “straws”

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,

  • Capital-Poipet express rail project making headway

    The preliminary results of a feasibility study to upgrade the Phnom Penh-Poipet railway into Cambodia’s first express railway indicate that the project would cost more than $4 billion and would take around four years to complete. The study was carried out by China Road and

  • Thai boxers to join SEA Games’ Kun Khmer event

    The Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) – together with the Kun Khmer International Federation (KKIF) and Khmer Boxing Federation – have achieved a “great success” by including Kun Khmer in the upcoming biennial multi-sports event on its home soil for the first time, said a senior