The government has ordered the Ministry of Environment to work with the relevant authorities to grant Koh Kong province villagers land from Union Development Group (UDG), a Chinese company, following a long-standing dispute.
The villagers said they found the land empty in 2015, but were notified in 2017 that it belonged to UDG. They have up until now refused to vacate the land.
A letter from the Council of Ministers to the Ministry of Environment and Koh Kong provincial authorities last week said that Tek Reth Samrach, Council of Ministers secretary of state, ordered that the villagers be granted the disputed land.
“The Ministry of Environment must cut out the land in Prek Ksach commune, in Kiri Sakor district, and land near the water in Thmar Sor commune in Botum Sakor district, from UDG’s development area, and give it to the people who are living on the land,” Reth Samrach said in the letter.
“The Union Development Group must also maintain the mangrove forests, flooded forests and other forest areas, and incorporate them into its masterplan and program.”
Hour In, a legal adviser for a rights group in Koh Kong, said his organisation, which is watching the case, welcomed the decision.
“The people who live there do not want to leave. It is time the dispute was settled so that people can live in peace,” he said.
The Post was unable to contact Sao Sopheap, Ministry of Environment spokesperson, for comment on Thursday.