Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Oral sanctuary land grab thwarted

Oral sanctuary land grab thwarted

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Nearly 100 people from Trapaing Thmea village were stopped on Wednesday from grabbing more than 200ha illegally in the Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary in Kampong Speu province. Facebook

Oral sanctuary land grab thwarted

Kampong Speu provincial police and NGO ACNCIPO director Chea Hean stopped nearly 100 people from grabbing more than 200ha illegally in the Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary on Wednesday.

The incident occurred at the Trapaing Thmea village in Oral district.

Hean said on Wednesday the people intended to claim the area for private ownership and prepared to build sheds and clear forest land to grow crops. Authorities intervened and the 100 or so families protested.

He said they eventually listened to instructions and returned to their respective homes.

“We explained to them that we stop all forms of forest land encroachment. If any person clears State land, we will cooperate with the police to build a case,” he said.

Trapaing Thmea villager Hong Vuthy, 35, said on Wednesday that villagers had occupied the land and relied on it for their livelihoods since 2012. But they had no titles or recognition from local authorities. However, he agreed to leave the land.

He urged the authorities to act against powerful individuals because he doesn’t want to see biased actions against the people.

Vuthy said he received information that the authorities had cracked down on ordinary people, but allowed powerful and wealthy individuals to occupy State land illegally.

“We agree not to occupy the land anymore, but we request the authorities to investigate with transparency and justice because I am afraid we will be evicted only to have the land given to others.

“I am a poor citizen. We plan to write letters asking the authorities for land in the area for our families’ livelihoods,” he said.

Trasal commune chief Dul Sokhom said 100 families had gathered to grab the State land. Even though the authorities had repeatedly warned them, they did not listen and illegally built huts.

He said five of the families asked him last week to sign documents recognising the grabbed land, but he refused and told them to stop because the land is protected by a royal decree.

“The villagers saw a lot of empty land, so they gathered to grab it, but we cannot meet such demands,” he said, adding that some villagers already had land granted to them by the authorities, but they sold it and tried to get new land.

A notice released by the Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary office on August 14 and seen by The Post on Wednesday said the encroachment is against the law as stipulated under Article 62 of the Law on Natural Protected Areas, which was promulgated by a royal decree dated February 15, 2008.

The notice said any persons who violated the article would be punished as committing grade-4 natural resources offences, which carry a prison sentence of five to 10 years and a fine of up to 150 million riel ($36,700). Evidence will be seized as State property.

MOST VIEWED

  • Purging Sihanoukville’s past with a new masterplan

    Amid illicit activities, haphazard development and abandoned projects, the coastal city of Sihanouk province needs a reset to move forward. A new masterplan might be the answer to shake off its seemingly mucky image to become the Shenzhen of the south Gun toting, shootouts, police

  • Chinese may be first in tourism revival: PM

    Cambodia's tourism industry is gearing up to roll out the red carpet for Chinese travellers after Prime Minister Hun Sen on September 17 indicated that the Kingdom could soon throw open its doors to international holidaymakers vaccinated against Covid-19 – starting with guests from China. Cambodia Chinese

  • 'Pursue your goals, reach out to me': Young diplomat tapped as envoy to South Korea

    Chring Botum Rangsay was a secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation before being designated as the new Cambodian ambassador to South Korea. According to her official CV published on the foreign ministry’s website, she started her first government

  • Tourism concerns laid bare

    To ensure the success of plans to reopen the tourism market for international visitors, Cambodia must pay utmost attention to two primary determinants – the ongoing paradigm shift in domestic tourism services towards the ‘new normal’, and the factors influencing choices of destinations among foreign holidaymakers.

  • Covid jab drive for 6-11 age group to begin Sept 17

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has permitted Covid-19 vaccinations for over 1.8 million children aged 6-11 across the country from September 17 in order for them to return to school after a long hiatus. Hun Sen also hinted that vaccinations for the 3-6 age group will follow in

  • No ‘Crown Prince’ exists to buy France football club: ministry

    The Ministry of the Royal Palace has denied media reports that a Cambodian “Crown Prince” had purchased the AS Saint Etienne football club of France’s top-flight LIGUE 1 at the cost of €100 million ($117 million). In a press statement on September 19, the ministry stressed that Cambodia