Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sam Al urges officials to stop rampant land stealing in Ratanakkiri

Sam Al urges officials to stop rampant land stealing in Ratanakkiri

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Minister of Environment Say Sam Al said at a Tuesday meeting with officials, the Ratanakkiri governor, and commune and district authorities. Environment Ministry

Sam Al urges officials to stop rampant land stealing in Ratanakkiri

At a Tuesday meeting with officials, the Ratanakkiri governor, and commune and district authorities, Minister of Environment Say Sam Al said land stealing is rampant and has not slowed down in the province.

Sam Al said local officials have been involved in several illegal land sales to various entities and stressed that measures preventing such actions must be stronger.

He said local authorities continued to sign illegal land titles even though they have been educated on the matter many times.

“Local authorities have to take part in protecting and conserving natural resources. They can’t cut trees, burn land or steal state land. They must not illegally request state land for culprits. [If they do so] they have to face the law without being forgiven,” he said.

Ratanakkiri provincial Department of Environment director Phon Khemarin said Sam Al’s assertion was a reminder to those who steal land in protected areas.

“I am sorry, but I cannot tell you the exact places where land stealing occurred. We are doing the job. We are working with the court,” he said.

Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said many hectares of land in protected areas have been stolen. The ministry will take measures to build court cases and take back the land.

Ratanakkiri provincial coordinator for Adhoc Din Khanny agreed with Sam Al’s assertions. Local authorities receive benefits for not preventing land stealing in protected areas, he said.

But Khanny thinks Sam Al’s request to strengthen measures is a bit late. Protected areas are already almost lost entirely, Khanny said.

Local authorities became careless and even threatened, sued and slandered activists trying to protect the land, he said.

“If the measures are taken from now on, there are at least some natural resources that remain. If it is like how Sam Al has mentioned, we can take back state land.

“Legally, officials who signed documents and those who occupied state land must receive the same punishment,” he said.

The Post was unable to reach provincial governor Thorng Savun on Wednesday.

There are six protected areas covering 893,594ha including Virachey National Park, O’Yadav National Park, Lum Phat Wildlife Sanctuary and Siem Pang Wildlife Sanctuary, according to the environment ministry.


  • All inbound flights set to face added scrutiny

    Ministry of Health spokesperson Or Vandine said on Monday that the ministry is monitoring all inbound flights, after it was announced that only those from Malaysia and Indonesia will be temporarily cancelled from August 1. Vandine said on Monday that the two countries were identified as

  • Flights from Indonesia, Malaysia cancelled

    A Ministry of Health official has warned of the possibility of Covid-19 spreading through community transmission after the total infected cases in the Kingdom rose to 225. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine told reporters on Saturday that the possibility of community transmission cannot be overlooked and that

  • Man in quarantine dies of ‘overdose’

    The Ministry of Health on Thursday said a Cambodian migrant worker who died while being isolated at a quarantine centre in Tbong Khmum province’s Kroch Chhmar district may have died from syncope or overdose of tablets. In a statement, the ministry said the 21-year-old

  • Ministry set to reopen 20 schools in August

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport will allow 20 high-safety-standards schools to reopen next month despite new cases of Covid-19 in the country. Ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha wrote in a Telegram message on Wednesday that the schools are in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang.