Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Locals seek spirits’ help

Locals seek spirits’ help

Community members organise a traditional event to curse the Chinese firm Rui Feng yesterday in Preah Vihear province. Photo supplied
Community members organise a traditional event to curse the Chinese firm Rui Feng yesterday in Preah Vihear province. Photo supplied

Locals seek spirits’ help

More than 300 ethnic villagers at two separate locations in Preah Vihear province conducted traditional ceremonies yesterday beseeching the spirits for an end to their ongoing land dispute with the Chinese-owned Rui Feng sugar company.

Rui Feng and four subsidiaries were granted close to 40,000 hectares for sugarcane plantations in the province and have been clearing the land, which villagers claim encompasses their ancestral plots.

The ethnically Kuoy villagers conducted the cursing rituals in Chey Sen and Tbeng Meanchey districts, calling on spirits – known as neak ta – to help find a solution for their dispute.

About $75 was collected to purchase a cow’s head, two pig’s heads and fruit, and at one point a spirit possessed one of the villagers.

“Our spirits told us that they alone cannot help us unless the villagers work together to reclaim the land back,” said Sao Khun Lao, 29, who says she has lost 10 hectares of her land.

Security personnel observed the rituals but did not intervene or break up the ceremonies.

The Post reported last month on a campaign by villagers across three districts to oppose the company, with locals camping out on the land and attempting to stop machinery from clearing their farms, though with little success.

Ung Vuthy, Tbeng Meanchey district governor, said the villagers were free to conduct their rituals, and maintained that the company had already solved the problems of those actually affected by the clearing.

Rui Feng administration manager Kuy Yoeun denied allegations of land grabbing and said the company was unbothered by the cursing ceremony.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM: Armed uprising to be destroyed immediately

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday said if an armed group were to rise up as announced by Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), they would be destroyed immediately. Hun Sen said Rainsy’s announcement of having

  • Sihanoukville to begin road project

    The government will spend $200 million to improve Sihanoukville’s infrastructure. The eight-month project will involve the rebuilding of 34 streets with a total of more than 84km. Pal Chandara, the secretary of state and spokesman for the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, told The Post

  • Artefact is seized from American auctioneers

    Cambodian and US archaeologists on Thursday discussed the formalities and procedures of returning to Cambodia an artefact which was recently seized by US Homeland Security Investigators (HSI) from an auction house in San Francisco. On Monday, the HSI said US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE),

  • New note to mark King’s coronation

    The government announced on Monday that a new 15,000 riel bank-note will be introduced to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the coronation of King Norodom Sihamoni on October 29. Prime Minister Hun Sen said the new note bears the portrait of the King, with an image of