The government offered almost 200 families 1.5 hectares each to resolve a land dispute with two sugar companies in Koh Kong province during a meeting yesterday, though the families demanded greater compensation.
Tep Thorn, head of the eighth land dispute resolution working group at the Ministry of Land Management, met in Phnom Penh with 15 representatives of 175 families from Sre Ambel and Botum Sakor districts.
The community members had requested 2 hectares and $5,000 for each family as compensation for land lost to economic land concessions (ELCs) granted to Koh Kong Sugar Industry Co Ltd, and Koh Kong Plantation, according to a note issue after the meeting.
The government, in turn, had countered with 1.5 hectares.
Thorn, however, said the people refused to accept the offer of 1.5 hectares, and that he would take the matter to senior officials to negotiate. “We have to discuss further with companies,” he said.
A representative of the villagers, Phav Nhoeung, said that the offer was unacceptable, as some had lost much more land. “We lowered our request to 2 hectares and $5,000, which was $10,000 before,” she said, adding the money is needed to support families and pay bank debts.
Nhoeung said they would continue protesting in Phnom Penh if the request was denied and would send a petition to Prime Minister Hun Sen soon.
The meeting followed a letter from government lawyer Pal Chandara to Minister of Land Management Chea Sophara in early January in response to a petition by the communities, asking to help resolve the 10-year-old conflict.