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

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Cambodia resumes issuance of tourist visas

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has announced the resumption of its tourist visa and visa exemption programme after a long hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In a letter dated October 20 and addressed to foreign embassies and consulates, foreign minister Prak Sokhonn

  • S’ville set to turn into ‘second Shenzhen’

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance has awarded a master plan consultancy contract to top Chinese institute for the development and transformation of Preah Sihanouk province into a “Model Multi-Purpose Special Economic Zone”, Southeast Asia’s next logistics and resort hub and innovation centre. The