Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - NGOs discuss sugar settlement concerns

NGOs discuss sugar settlement concerns

CHRAC secretary-general Suon Bunsak, Sim Sitha, Chan Vichet and Sao Seny at a compensation meeting on April 10 in Kampong Speu. Photo supplied
CHRAC secretary-general Suon Bunsak (centre) attends a compensation meeting on April 10 in Kampong Speu. Photo supplied

NGOs discuss sugar settlement concerns

Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC) staff held a meeting yesterday in the absence of their secretary-general, Suon Bunsak, to discuss how to respond to concerns about Bunsak’s approval of a settlement between hundreds of evicted Kampong Speu villagers and Phnom Penh Sugar.

Compensation recipients, community leaders and NGOs claimed that the company, owned by tycoon and ruling party Senator Ly Yong Phat, obtained the settlement agreements in a climate of bullying and coercion, and only after co-opting certain community representatives, former NGO employees and Bunsak. Most recipients received only $500.

CHRAC secretary Leng Pich confirmed the meeting took place, adding that a further internal meeting with Bunsak present was planned, as well as another with members of CHRAC’s steering committee. He said Bunsak had a scheduling conflict during the initial meeting.

Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), a donor to CHRAC, is currently assessing its relationship with the NGO, according to NPA country director Aksel Steen-Nilsen. He insisted that such assessments were an ongoing part of NPA’s relationship with its partners, but conceded that this one was taking place under unusual circumstances.

“What’s a bit special here is how did CHRAC suddenly get involved in this case,” Steen-Nilsen said, echoing concerns from Heinrich Boll Foundation country director Ali al-Nasani over CHRAC and Equitable Cambodia being involved separately on the same land dispute.

Former CHRAC donor USAID is also clarifying what has taken place by forwarding the allegations to its Office of the Inspector General, according to US Embassy spokesman Jay Raman.

NGOs also met with EU ambassador George Edgar yesterday. Equitable Cambodia executive director Eang Vuthy said he briefed Edgar on the situation in Kampong Speu among other issues. Edgar confirmed the briefing, but declined to comment further.

Bunsak could not be reached for comment yesterday.

MOST VIEWED

  • Proof giants walked among us humans?

    For years a debate has waged about whether certain bas relief carvings at the 12th-century To Prohm Temple, one of the most popular attractions at the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Siem Reap province, depicted dinosaurs or some rather less exotic and more contemporary animal,

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Long way to go before Cambodia gets a ‘smart city’

    Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang will struggle to attain smart city status without adopting far reaching master plans, according to officials tasked with implementing the program. The brainchild of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the smart city program seeks to link up

  • Japan bank buys major stake in ANZ Royal Bank

    Japan's largest bank acquired more than half of ANZ’s shares in Cambodia on Thursday, according to a statement from Kith Meng’s Royal Group. Japan's JTrust Bank, announced that they had acquired a 55% of stake in ANZ Royal Bank. According to a Royal Group