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Time has ‘run out’ for land grabbers: minister

Minister of Land Management Chea Sophara speaks at a press conference at the ministry earlier this year.
Minister of Land Management Chea Sophara speaks at a press conference at the ministry earlier this year. Pha Lina

Time has ‘run out’ for land grabbers: minister

Land Management Minister Chea Sophara declared on Saturday that land grabbers would not evade justice, no matter how rich and powerful they were, although observers yesterday maintained a “wait and see” position.

“The opportunity for the land grabbers has run out and I hereby declare it,” Sophara said at the inauguration of a pagoda in his native Kroch Chhmar district in Tbong Khmum province. “Do not think to bribe me to make the land title.

“Even if people have horns right on their head, I am still not afraid of them; I do not care how rich you are,” he said.

“If they stop, they will be alright. If they do not stop . . . it is because perhaps they think that I am stupid, but I am not,” said the minister, who has been in office for about a month and has previously warned that he will make a blacklist of powerful individuals involved in land grabbing.

Latt Ky, director of Adhoc’s land dispute division, welcomed Sophara’s remarks, albeit with caution. “He seems to have strong will . . . however, we have to wait and see about the real implementation,” he said.

Licadho technical supervisor Am Sam Ath echoed Ky, adding that government will has been mostly lacking in long-term land disputes related to economic land concessions.

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