Supreme Council for Consultation member Pich Sros said on Sunday he would prepare two separate reports urging legal action against two-star major general Tun Dieth for allegedly planting posts and sand dredging in the coastal area in Smach Ngam village, in Khemarak Phumin city’s Smach Meanchey commune, in Koh Kong province.
The reports will be submitted to Prime Minister Hun Sen and Minister of National Defence Tea Banh.
Sros, who is also the president of the Cambodian Youth Party, made the allegations after leading a team on a visit to the scene following a complaint from locals who accused Dieth of grabbing the coastal area.
He said in a nearly two-hour video clip taken in the area that the grabbed land was about 2ha. It was planted with posts going into the sea. The area is said to be state land as per sub-decree No 80 approved in 2016.
“He filled [some parts of] the area with sand and soil, about 50m by over 200m. Please consider that if the authorities do not remove the posts and sand, Tun Dieth will grab the land successfully in future,” Sros said.
Sros told The Post on Monday that he is preparing the two separate reports to be submitted as soon as possible as he wants legal action against Dieth and to preserve the area for the next generation.
“The actions of two-star major general Tun Dieth is tantamount to the theft and exploitation of state land and it’s a treasonous act, so the government must investigate and bring him to justice,” he said.
Sros also rejected the claim made by the commune authority that the planting of the posts and nets was to catch rubbish.
He said such claims were untrue as his onsite investigation revealed a lot of evidence that Dieth had filled and attempted to grab the coastal area.
Provincial governor Phouthong Mithona said on Monday that the authorities, including court officials, once caught machinery for filling in the area. They would take further legal action on the individual after obtaining Sros’ report. A provincial committee, she said, was also investigating the matter.
“After the committee completes its work, we will follow the relevant laws. I don’t know [Dieth], but what he has done violated the law. He must face the law even though he has power because our country has laws, which must be implemented,” she said.
Dieth could not be contacted for comment over the allegation. National Defence Ministry spokesman Chum Socheat also could not be reached for comment on Monday.
However, Smach Meanchey commune chief Neam Yung again denied the accusation, even though he acknowledged that the area is protected by the sub-decree. He said people lived in the area before the sub-decree was issued in 2016.
Yung said the case involves a dispute between rich and powerful persons and it’s difficult to solve. He said another powerful person also filled the area, but he was not ordered to remove the sand.
Bey Vanny, the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said such land grabs happened when investments increased in the province. Land grabs, he said, usually involve the rich and powerful.
“Such things are unfortunate for Cambodia and our people because laws are not effectively implemented. Only when the media reports that action is taken. When there is no report, there’s no action,” he said.