Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Local chiefs accused of selling 503ha of community land

Local chiefs accused of selling 503ha of community land

Local chiefs accused of selling 503ha of community land

Villagers in Mondulkiri province’s O’Raing district have accused the chiefs of Pou Treng village and Dak Dam commune of allowing traders to continue clearing 503ha and colluding to sell community land to business people since April.

Pou Treng villager Pyean Chren told The Post on Thursday that village chief Plorng Chheng and Dak Dam commune chief Chas Na had sold 503ha of land under false premises, by using the villagers’ credentials, while most of it is forest community land and some belong to 23 families.

He said after it was sold, traders used machinery to clear the land, but the work was halted after 13 villagers protested.

On Wednesday, Chren said, the land clearing resumed despite villagers submitting complaints to relevant departments and the provincial hall more than a month ago.

“I have not seen [the provincial authorities] coming to address this case. Until now, nothing has been done,” he said.

Chren said he did not know how much the 503ha plot was sold for or which traders were involved in the scheme.

Teuy Tren, another local villager, told The Post that 6ha of land belonging to him, his brother, his nephews and nieces and his children was being taken illegally.

He said they had owned the plot since the 1980s and used it to plant crops such as cashew nuts, mangoes and cassava.

“Right now, I can get onto the land, but if I need to transport the cassava out, there are no exit ways because the surrounding area has been encroached on,” Tren said.

Pou Treng village chief Plorng Cheng told The Post that the 503ha of community land had been put up for sale some time ago, but it was due to a GPS mistake whereby the devices marked areas belonging to local people.

Cheng said he then issued a statement rejecting the land’s demarcation, which people from the community acknowledged, to prevent the plot being sold.

He said an excavator that was spotted on Wednesday was on a different site – 300ha of farmland which belonged to local people.

“The land that was being sold was all farmland which is owned by local people, but nothing has been solved yet, and it does not affect the community land,” he said.

Provincial hall spokesman Sok Sera said he was unaware of the villagers’ complaints but said neither the authorities nor the community had the right to sell any community forest that was officially registered.

“No one has the right to sell a registered community forest. Not insiders or outsiders,” Sera stressed.

Eangy Mengly, the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said he received word from the community about the land clearance on Wednesday and said it was taking place on land the community claimed was community forest.

“Such grabbing of community forest land is illegal. Who is involved in the case? And why have the authorities not paid attention to solve it?” he asked.

MOST VIEWED

  • Investors’ $14.4M projects approved

    New investments from local and foreign sources continue to pour into Cambodia despite the Covid-19 pandemic remaining a lingering threat to regional and global economies. This comes as the Kingdom’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to contract between one and 2.9 per cent this

  • NagaWorld casinos set to reopen, schools to follow

    NAGACORP Ltd has requested that it be allowed to reopen its NagaWorld integrated resorts in Phnom Penh after the government recently approved casinos to operate again, provided they follow Covid-19 prevention measures set by the Ministry of Health. Mey Vann, the director-general of the Ministry

  • Rubber exports stretch 17%

    Cambodia exported 97,175 tonnes of natural rubber in the first five months of this year, surging 17 per cent compared to the same period last year as the Covid-19 pandemic stretches on, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries official Khuong Phalla told The Post on Thursday. Phalla,

  • ASEM supports Kingdom’s proposal to postpone meeting amid Covid

    The 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM13) scheduled to be held in Cambodia in November has been postponed until mid-2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation press statement released on Saturday said. The decision was made during a two-day meeting

  • Coffee maker roasted for producing fake product

    The Ministry of Interior’s Counter Counterfeit Committee will send a suspect to court on Monday after she allegedly roasted coffee mixed with soybeans and other ingredients, creating a product which could pose a high risk to consumers’ health. On the afternoon of July 2, the

  • Cash handout programme 80% complete

    Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation Vong Soth confirmed on Thursday that the implementation of the Cash Transfer Programme For Poor and Vulnerable Households During Covid-19 had been implemented for more than 80% of the over 560,000 families. The programme was introduced one week ago.

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Where is Cambodia’s exit strategy that can save the economy?

    With the prospect of being slammed by a double whammy, the government is working on an economic recovery plan to deliver it from Covid-19 and the EU’s partial withdrawal of the Everything But Arms scheme in the next two to three years Cambodia is

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Thai border crossings eased

    The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand said in an announcement on Wednesday that Thailand’s government has allowed certain passengers from several countries to enter its borders. The visitors must go back to their country immediately after their duties in Thailand are fulfilled, the embassy said.