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Rage at bank flares up again

Kampong Speu villagers affected by a sugar plantation urge a boycott of ANZ Royal Bank outside a branch yesterday in Phnom Penh
Kampong Speu villagers affected by a sugar plantation urge a boycott of ANZ Royal Bank outside a branch yesterday in Phnom Penh. The bank helped finance the plantation owned by tycoon Ly Yong Phat. Hong Menea

Rage at bank flares up again

About 200 villagers from Kampong Speu province protested outside ANZ Royal Bank yesterday, calling for the public to stop using its services following unanswered calls for compensation over alleged land grabbing by ruling party Senator Ly Yong Phat, who financed his agro-concessions with loans from the bank.

Yesterday’s action was sparked by ANZ’s failure to acknowledge demands for compensation made in a petition and during protests outside the bank on August 1 and 14, community representative Cheang Sopheap said.

“ANZ Bank earned good profits from Phnom Penh Sugar Company, and the profits were taken from the villagers since it came from our farmlands, which were grabbed by the company,” he said.

Phat’s Phnom Penh Sugar has been at the centre of years-long land disputes following the forced eviction of hundreds of families from an 8,343-hectare land concession in Kampong Speu.

During yesterday’s rally, protesters cursed ANZ while calling on the public to stop using its services.

Officials at ANZ could not be reached for comment yesterday, but the bank has previously told protesters that affected families would have to deal with Phnom Penh Sugar directly, because its dealings with the firm had concluded in July.

Ahead of yesterday’s protest, police intercepted the protesters as they travelled in trucks towards the capital, Meas Sa Em, a villager from Thpong district, said.

“They intercepted us at three points. There were about 40 police officers,” Sa Em said.

Kem Yon, a Thpong district police official, acknowledged that police had stopped the villagers but said it was merely part of a routine vehicle inspection.

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