Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Villagers told not to claim land




Villagers told not to claim land

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Members of Kampong Speu’s ethnic Suoy families occupy cleared land within the Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary despite authority’s prohibition. Photo supplied

Villagers told not to claim land

Officials of the Kampong Speu provincial environment department have stopped some 300 members of the ethnic Suoy minority from building demarcation posts on a 15ha plot in Oral district.

They said the land is located within the protected Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary and are probing a potential collusion between the ethnic community and land brokers.

Provincial environment department director Em Sokhun told The Post on Tuesday that the 300 villagers represent 300 ethnic Suoy families from Kodontey, Putrea and Tanil villages in Trapaing Cho commune.

He said they had encroached state land in the sanctuary, and that each of them had cleared around 500sqm of land and planted the border posts without official approval.

“Our officials have explained to them that their activities were against the law, but they refuse to listen and continue to set up the posts on state land repeatedly."

“We suspect that they are being used by brokers who intend to claim the land for personal gain, and we are investigating,” Sokun said.

Khoeun Samrith, a representative of the Suoy ethnic community in Kodontey village, said the land was originally part of Suoy ethnic communal land.

He said the government ceded the land to Cosmo, a private company that had obtained an investment licence to turn the popular Te Teuk Pos hot spring into an ecotourism site.

In 2015, the firm went bankrupt and the land was returned to the government.

Samrith said the Suoy ethnic community members planted the border posts to prevent outsiders from grabbing the land.

“The land has recently been cleared. When we asked the authorities, especially environment officials managing the area, they said they didn’t know."

“We are worried that the communal land is being cleared and sold to private companies. We are also afraid of being accused of selling the land."

“Hence, to protect the communal land, Suoy ethnic community members from three villages agreed to reoccupy it, despite prohibition by environment officials,” he said.

Samrith disputed the environment officials’ claims that the communal land belonged to the protected Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary, which is under the jurisdiction of the Environment Ministry.

Lem Heng, another Suoy ethnic community representative, said they would not protest if the communal land is included in a state-owned ecotourism project.

Heng said the community worries that the land may have been sold to the company. He said forest in the planned ecotourism site had been cleared, but there had been no noticeable signs of development in the area.

Oral district governor Muong Phy insisted on Tuesday that the land in question is part of the Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary. He said the actual communal land spans 3085.68ha and has already been registered.

“We suspect the encroachment on the wildlife sanctuary involved collusion with land brokers. Other villagers who have registered their land can sell it after registration."

“But the Suoy ethnic community from the three villages have no right to sell their land because it has already been registered collectively as communal land,” 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