Locals in Kampong Thom province’s Sandan district told visiting opposition leaders yesterday that their lands had been deforested and occupied by Vietnamese companies.
The opposition party lawmakers-elect, led by Cambodia National Rescue Party president Sam Rainsy and deputy president Kem Sokha, were on a tour of parts of Prey Lang forest, where there has been logging by companies granted economic land concessions.
In a video clip posted on Sokha’s Facebook page yesterday, a crowd of villagers gather around him. “Before it was [Khmer] people’s land, but the Yuon took it,” one local said, using a slang term for Vietnamese generally viewed as disparaging.
Sokha and Rainsy then addressed the crowd, calling for a change in government.
“Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge led the country from 1975 to 1979 and killed Khmer people. Now a former Khmer Rouge group in the government of the Cambodian People’s Party is killing the natural resources,” Sokha said.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said the remarks were meant to score cheap political points and that development had helped the poor.