Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Standoff over Tbong Khmum farmland enters week two

Standoff over Tbong Khmum farmland enters week two

Villagers protest the clearing of farmland they say belongs to them in Tbong Khmum province earlier this week. Photo supplied
Villagers protest the clearing of farmland they say belongs to them in Tbong Khmum province earlier this week. Photo supplied

Standoff over Tbong Khmum farmland enters week two

Some 300 demonstrators from seven villages in Tbong Khmum province are entering their second week of protest against a local company’s ongoing attempts to clear farmland they say belongs to them, claiming the government tricked them out of their land in the 1990s.

The villagers began protesting last Friday, building camps on the 500 hectares the government had granted to Sopheak Nika Investment company.

Ros Bunnat, 43, said that villagers have used the land for farming since 1979. In 1990, he claims the villagers were asked to thumbprint documents that authorities promised would be used to create land deeds.

But no such deeds materialised, leaving them nothing to defend their claim 27 years later. Chhem Sam Ang, current Kor commune chief, said the former chief who took the thumbprints has since passed away.

In late 2016, after purchasing the land from the government, Sopha Nika began clearing it in preparation of planting rubber trees, triggering this week’s protests.

“People said that they will continue protesting until they get the land back,” Bunnat said, explaining that protesters are seeking a 25 meter by 50 meter plot of land per family.

On Sunday, district governor Keng Bunna issued a letter to the protesters, saying the establishment of camps constituted “illegal land-grabbing” and promising “legal measures” should they not be dismantled within a day.

Attempts to reach district au-thorities or company representatives were unsuccessful.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,

  • Cambodia's poverty cut in half from 2009 to 2019: World Bank report

    A report published by the World Bank on November 28 states that Cambodia’s national poverty rate fell by almost half between 2009 and 2019, but the Covid-19 pandemic recently reversed some of the poverty reduction progress. Cambodia’s poverty rate dropped from 33.8 to 17.8 per cent over the 10