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

  • Body of woman killed in Bangkok returns

    The Cambodian embassy in Thailand is working to repatriate the body of a casino dealer who was shot dead in Bangkok on Monday night. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman Kuy Kuong told The Post on Wednesday that officials are preparing paperwork to

  • Chikungunya hits 15 provinces, says gov’t

    Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said on Thursday that the chikungunya outbreak in the Kingdom has spread to 15 provinces. Some 1,700 people are now suspected to have the disease. Vandine urged people to prevent its further spread by eliminating shelters for the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes

  • Gov’t exempts visa A and B holders from Covid fees

    Airline passengers who are diplomats and officials of international organisations holding Type A and B visas for travel to Cambodia are exempted from paying Covid-19 testing fees, said the Ministry of Health in its latest adjustment of rules on Wednesday. Health Minister Mam Bun Heng

  • Bill covering dress code draws ire

    Ministry of Interior secretary of state Ouk Kim Lek responded on Tuesday to criticism concerning a draft law that would ban women from wearing overly revealing clothing, saying that input from all parties will be considered as the law moves through the promulgation process. Several

  • Passing the test: Is Cambodia’s education system failing its people?

    The Kingdom’s education system needs to grow its people but some flaws might stifle​ this growth Coming from the Khmer Rouge occupation, with the loss of many scholars and academicians and a collapsed government, the education system had to be reconstructed from scratch – one

  • What’s the deal with Cambodia and China’s FTA?

    Cambodia’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China kicks off a series of FTAs in future but for now, critics wonder what else the parties could bring to the table apart from what it already has to date By the end of this year, Cambodia