Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Village officials accused of selling off forest land



Village officials accused of selling off forest land

Village officials accused of selling off forest land

Officials in Mondulkiri’s Sen Monorom commune have asked the deputy Purang village chief and a former Purang Primary School director to appear at the commune hall next Friday for questioning over the alleged selling of community forest land.

The summonses follow a complaint filed to commune officials on Wednesday by a group of 55 families belonging to the Phnong ethnic community in Purang village, in O’Raing district. A complaint was also filed to rights group Adhoc.

Seng Ye, deputy Purang village chief, and Yorn Sarith, the former Purang Primary School director, allegedly sold 59 hectares of forest land to Sreng Lorn, who owns a petrol station in Sen Monorom town, according to Nhan Srey, head of the local Phnong community. Documents for the January sale were allegedly signed by village and commune authorities, he said.

“We did not know about the selling until they started clearing the land with tractors last month,” Srey said. “The sale of land is illegal, so we just filed the complaint.”

Kvan Trel, chief of Sen Monorom commune, acknowledged having signed the sale documents but claimed the sellers had ownership documents they had received in 2008 from a former commune chief, adding that commune officials also weren’t aware that the land in question was community forest, she said.

“The community used GPS to claim the land as their community forest,” she said. “Ye and Sarith transferred the ownership to buyer [Sreng Lorn], and we signed the document based on the ownership documents issued in 2008 because we did not know that it affected the community’s land.”

Trel said she will try to find a solution when the sellers appear for questioning. If the problem is not resolved, she said, she will forward the complaint to district hall.

Ung Serey Vuthy, the current Purang village chief, also confirmed having signed off on the sale, though he also claimed to have done so based on the ownership documents. Serey Vuthy said that when Ye was the Purang village chief, he “gave” the land to Sarith. It’s unknown if Ye was Purang village chief at the time the 2008 ownership documents were issued.

“The sellers controlled the land before the establishment of the community in 2015 or 2016,” he claimed.

Sok Rotha, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said authorities and Adhoc inspected the disputed area last Thursday after receiving the complaint, and that based on his observations, the area was state forest.

“No one has the authority to have ownership of forestland,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen says Kingdom not a 'satellite country'

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said Cambodia had sent diplomatic notes to various embassies demonstrating its stance and clarifying allegations that the Kingdom is a satellite country of China which will allow it exclusive access to the Ream Naval Base in Preah Sihanouk province. The response

  • Vast Prince Manor fun park opens to much fanfare in Kandal

    Chinese-owned Prince Culture and Development Co Ltd officially launched the $85 million Prince Manor entertainment centre in Kandal province on Wednesday. Prince Manor is located along National Road 1, 20km from the centre of Phnom Penh. It is the first major theme park project in Cambodia and

  • Angkor provides ‘valuable’ water storage

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has stored millions of cubic metres of water at reservoirs in the Angkor area after Cambodia experienced a series of rainstorms over the last few days. The storing of the water, besides serving temple conservation, will also be used to

  • Floods prompt evacuations in Kampong Speu

    Rain-induced floods and water flowing from Kampong Speu province have submerged the houses of 1,527 families living close to the Prek Thnot River in Spean Thma, Tien, Kong Noy and Roluos communes in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district, according to data from local authorities. Spean Thma

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial