Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Protesters not happy with ministry’s offer

Protesters not happy with ministry’s offer

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A woman from Koh Kong cries as she and fellow protesters were prevented from reaching Prime Minister Hun Sen’s home. Hong Menea

Protesters not happy with ministry’s offer

Some 200 villagers from Koh Kong province in a longstanding dispute with the Koh Kong Sugar Industry Co Ltd were prevented by the capital’s Daun Penh district authorities from protesting at the home of Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday.

On Monday, the Ministry of Land Management had offered the villagers a two-hectare plot and $3,000 to each of the 317 families involved in the land dispute. But this was rejected as the proposed site was too rocky to cultivate.

District Police Chief Huot Chan Yaran said protesting outside the prime minister’s residence was not permitted.

“We wouldn’t prevent them if they were to go to the Council of Ministers, for instance. But this group insisted on going to the prime minister’s house,” he said.

A protester, Sy Eang, 31, said that the villagers began at the Land Ministry, but they had decided to move on to Hun Sen’s home.

“We snuck off on a small road and reached Independence Monument, but the police followed and blocked us with their motorcycles. We are not scared because we did not do anything wrong."

“We believe that only Prime Minister Hun Sen could give us a quick resolution. We will not go back until we get a satisfactory deal,” she said.

On June 25, the Land Ministry told the villagers that it had set aside 317 two-hectare plots and would hold a lottery to determine which family got which plot.

It also offered $3,000 to each family, but more than 200 villagers returned to Phnom Penh because they were unhappy with the deal, claiming the land, near the Cardamom Mountains, was unsuitable for cultivation.

Instead, they are seeking land inside the rubber plantation owned by Koh Kong Sugar Industry.

Sor Kimson, 53, from Koh Kong’s Dorng Paeng commune in Sre Ambel district, expressed disappointment with the offer.“We are not happy with the new deal offered to us. The land is too hard for us, it is very rocky and is not in the plantation, where our original land was.

“They promise to complete the deal before June 30, but we don’t think it will be finished on time. We cannot accept the deal. We want the $3,000 and two hectares of land but we will not return home unless we are satisfied,” she said.

Orn Pheareak, the deputy provincial governor of Koh Kong, acknowledged that the land is “a bit rocky” and in a forest, but said authorities cannot offer them land inside the plantation.

“How can we take land from the sugar plantation, which is developing very nicely? The company would never agree."

“They need to do a bit of clearing on the land we offered, and it would be fine for harvesting crops. If the rocky land is not acceptable to them, we’ll keep it for those who are skilful and who can use it to harvest rocks to sell,” Pheareak said.

He added that if the villagers reject the deal, they can continue travelling to Phnom Penh to protest. “It’s up to them.”

Land Management Ministry spokesman Seng Lot could not be reached for comment.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh authorities ban march for Human Rights Day

    Phnom Penh authorities have banned a planned march as local NGOs and workers’ unions gear up to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Monday, with a youth group leader saying they would march nonetheless. The UN

  • Phnom Penh’s Jet’s Container Night Market shuts down

    The famous Jet’s Container Night Market in central Phnom Penh has shut down due to the high cost of the land rental, company representatives claim. Jet’s Container Night Market is the largest such market in Phnom Penh. It operated for just over two

  • Hun Sen rejects ‘rift’ rumours spread by ‘stupid gangsters’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday denied a “rift” among top leaders of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), and rejected claims that Senate president Say Chhum and Interior Minister Sar Kheng were set to be removed from their positions as rumours spread by “gangsters”.

  • EU ambassador to Cambodia: Rights a ‘work in progress’

    The EU ambassador to Cambodia has called human rights “a work in progress” and said the 28-nation bloc has “carefully” noted last week’s statement by the government on taking further steps to strengthen democracy and the political sphere in the Kingdom. The EU marked