A prominent member of the Supreme Council of Consultation is set to launch an investigation into the “dubious” ownership of a private property that allegedly encroaches on the sea in Kampot province.
Sok Sovann Vathana Sabung, who is president of the Khmer Rise Party (KRP), said the firm, Blue Star Kampot Real Estate, had publicly put the land up for sale with photos showing numerous markers in the sea, which he said is prohibited by law.
Vathana Sabung said he had requested clarification on the matter from provincial governor Cheav Tay before conducting a field visit later this week.
“How could the posts be planted in the sea without the knowledge of authorities? What is the purpose of planting markers in the sea? For such an investment project to be valid, the authorities need to publicly announce its validity,” he said.
Vathana Sabung pointed out that no investors could carry out development projects in the sea unless they were granted economic concessions from the government under certain terms and conditions.
The Post could not reach provincial governor Tay for comment on Monday. However, he previously told Fresh News that he had ordered his officials to immediately investigate the planting of the posts in the sea after receiving a report from environmental officials, along with pictures showing the encroachment.
“If we find that the markers are illegally planted, we will remove them right away because nobody has the right to plant border markers in the sea,” he said.
Keo Socheat, the manger of Blue Star Kampot Real Estate, told The Post on Monday that the property in Kampot town’s Troeuy Koh commune measures over 1ha. He said the firm had merely advertised the land for an unidentified owner who he said holds a hard title.
Socheat said he had asked the owner to temporarily hold off selling the land following widespread public criticism on social media.
“The land’s owner has a valid land title, but after the news went viral online, we’ve asked for the sale to be stopped for a while,” he said.
Socheat said the property is located in a shallow area affected by the tides. When the tide is in, he stressed, the sea covers the shore, making it look like the property is in the sea.
Cambodian National Research Organisation (CNRO) director Sok Sokhom, who has been monitoring development projects in the Kingdom’s coastal areas, said encroachment on state properties has become a common occurrence over the past years despite repeated warnings by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Sokhom urged the relevant authorities to take tougher measures to prevent repeat offences.
“Illegal activities such as the grabbing of public land and the filling in of the sea have occurred frequently in the coastal provinces of Kampot, Koh Kong and Preah Sihanouk. The provincial authorities should strictly enforce the law and review development projects in a transparent manner because some projects encroach on the sea. Some developers even fill in the sea,” he said.