Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Villagers dubious of thumbprint request

Villagers dubious of thumbprint request

Villagers dubious of thumbprint request

More than 100 ethnic Phnong families embroiled in a land dispute with Vietnamese firm Binh Phuoc Kratie Co in Mondulkiri’s Keo Seima district yesterday refused authorities’ requests to submit thumbprints as part of a suggested resolution to the issue, out of fear they would be signing away their lands.

“We will no longer be cheated,” Phnong community member Yan Mao said. “They asked us for thumbprints in order to reach a settlement, but they need our thumbprints to tell the company that we have agreed to give them land.”

Authorities called on the local commune chief to coerce residents to submit their thumbprints, but villagers have been steadfast in their rejection, resident Roy Sokha said yesterday.

“We are afraid that if we make the thumbprints, the company will win the case and we will lose and be jailed,” he said. “That is why we are saying no. The commune chief has given us from March 24th to the 30th. After, they will take further measures.”

But Sre Chhouk commune chief Yorng Bun yesterday denied the allegations, saying authorities had requested the registration as a way of counting how many people live in the area.

“We did not coerce them. First, we asked them to make thumbprints, but they refused. Then, we asked them to register, but they still didn’t,” he said. “If there is no solution, then I will not be responsible, because it is their fault.”

Residents voiced their distrust of government officials over the thumbprint scheme due to similar reports in which villagers were the victims of dishonest dealings, said Sok Ratha, the provincial coordinator of local rights group Adhoc.

“They have [in the past] brought people’s thumbprints, but reached no solution, apart from people losing their land,” he said. “That’s why people don’t have confidence.”

Binh Phuoc Kratie Rubber I was in November 2011 granted a 70-year concession contract covering 8,926 hectares in Keo Seima district for agro-industrial purposes. Meanwhile, the Phnong community has built more than 170 homes on 1,100 hectares of disputed territory.

Phan Si Binh, the owner of Binh Phuoc Kratie, could not be reached for comment.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia’s image problem

    In opening remarks at a recent event, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Luy David said information can be a double-edged sword. He told a European Institute of Asian Studies (EIAS) briefing seminar that the media has unfairly presented

  • PM Hun Sen says dangers averted

    Delivering a campaign speech from his home via Facebook Live on Thursday, caretaker Prime Minister Hun Sen said his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) had carried the country through danger in its latest mandate. He was specifically referring to the threat of a “colour revolution”

  • Kingdom's trade deal with EU questioned before poll

    A European Union (EU) mission met with senior government officials at the Ministry of Interior on Tuesday as the 28-member bloc monitors an agreement under which Cambodian goods reach the crucial European market tariff-free. Some 10 commissioners are in the Kingdom as part of a seven-day

  • A new carrier takes off in capital

    Cambodia Airways, the latest passenger airline to enter the Kingdom, launched its first domestic flight on Tuesday. Flight KR801, carrying 145 passengers, left the Phnom Penh International Airport at 9:50am and landed in Siem Reap at 10:35am in an Airbus A319. Cambodia Airways marketing and branding