Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Protests over Mondulkiri sanctuary

Protests over Mondulkiri sanctuary

Phnong ethnic villagers block a road in Ou Reang district in 2015 during an earlier protest against Mega First Corporation. Photo supplied
Phnong ethnic villagers block a road in Ou Reang district in 2015 during an earlier protest against Mega First Corporation. Photo supplied

Protests over Mondulkiri sanctuary

Some 50 villagers representing Phnong ethnic communities in Mondulkiri protested two days in a row last week against the provincial land department’s decision to list parts of Phnom Nam Lyr Wildlife Sanctuary as private state land, paving the way for a company to clear it.

Mega First Corporation was granted an economic land concession (ELC) of more than 9,000 hectares in 2012. At the time, the land was considered state-public property, a designation that meant it could not be fundamentally changed, a hurdle that will be removed if the provincial land department’s decision stands.

The area overlaps with an estimated 4,000 hectares of community forest inside Phnom Nam Lyr Wildlife Sanctuary in Orang’s Dak Dam commune, according to protester Toeuy Thi, 55.

A letter submitted to the land department by members of effected communities in O’Raing, Pech Chreada, Koh Nhek, and Keo Seima districts was initially rejected, but accepted after protests continued until Friday.

“We protested against the allowance of Mega First to clear the forest land because there are two main water sources there,” Thi said. “It is wildlife sanctuary. If the forest is to be cleared, there will no more forest and water . . . Our ethnic communities depend on the water sources,” he said, adding the company has already cleared some 7 hectares.

Keo Sopheak, provincial environmental department director, said the government granted the land to the company and the study on its effects was already completed. “The villagers should have protested against it at the beginning. It is difficult now,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Proof giants walked among us humans?

    For years a debate has waged about whether certain bas relief carvings at the 12th-century To Prohm Temple, one of the most popular attractions at the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Siem Reap province, depicted dinosaurs or some rather less exotic and more contemporary animal,

  • Japan bank buys major stake in ANZ Royal Bank

    Japan's largest bank acquired more than half of ANZ’s shares in Cambodia on Thursday, according to a statement from Kith Meng’s Royal Group. Japan's JTrust Bank, announced that they had acquired a 55% of stake in ANZ Royal Bank. According to a Royal Group

  • Long way to go before Cambodia gets a ‘smart city’

    Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang will struggle to attain smart city status without adopting far reaching master plans, according to officials tasked with implementing the program. The brainchild of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the smart city program seeks to link up

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty