More than 300 families briefly blocked the entrance to the Kandal Provincial Hall Monday morning to ask the governor to intervene in a land dispute with well-connected conglomerate ING Holdings, which they say has built a fence around Boeung Chi Po, one of multiple lakes the company is filling in.
The villagers, who live on the lake in Takhmao town's Deum Mean commune, held photos of Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany, and banners accusing tycoon Ing Bunhov, ING's owner, of colluding with officials to get land titles for the lake.
Ho Sokheng, 50, a community representative, said villagers had been living and growing crops on the state land since 1999, but claimed that the company had secured a land title in 2016.
“In 2016, the company got the land title and rented this land to outsiders to grow crops," Sokheng said. "The firm also has also built fences around the lake."
Sokheng added that villagers have protested to no avail at various institutions, including in front of the premier's house and the Ministry of Land Management.
An official from the provincial hall came to receive their petition and asked them to stop blocking the building.
Reached by phone later, Kandal provincial governor Mao Phirun said he received the petition from the families and "will solve their issues."
“This lake does not belong to people," Phirun said. "They just want it to be state land and want to farm on the land like before."
Phirun said he did not know what the company planned to build on land.
ING representatives could not be reached on Monday.