Vietnamese secretary of Can Tho Municipal Party Committee Tran Quoc Trung visited Kampong Chhnang province to meet the Vietnamese residents of floating villages on the Tonle Sap river, Ministry of Interior secretary of state Sok Phal told The Post on Wednesday.
Trung paid the visit as provincial authorities assist some 4,563 families in relocating to higher ground, saying they’ve been asked to move to preserve the river’s water quality, natural resources and biodiversity.
“[Trung] visited because he wanted to witness the relocation of residents who live in the floating villages to higher ground in Kampong Chhnang province. There are people from his province and he wants to help because all of them are still [Vietnamese] immigrants.
“He came to help them move to higher ground . . . the main thing is that he asked for permission before assisting them. He agrees with the relocation plan, and it is normal for him to ask us before coming to pay attention to his community’s concerns,” Phal said.
Phal said he met with Trung on Tuesday afternoon at the ministry to discuss security, immigration and university scholarships.
Kampong Chhnang deputy provincial governor Sun Sovannarith confirmed to The Post that Trung had visited the province and met with provincial officials before visiting residents of the floating villages.
“He came to have a friendly discussion with us and then he met the [Vietnamese immigrants],” he said.
Sovannarith said provincial authorities had been gradually moving the residents to the property of a private citizen, where they may rent land to live on but have “no right to occupy it as their own”.
The provincial administration announced last week that Cambodian and Muslim residents would be granted a 5m by 20m plot if they willingly agreed to relocate. However, Vietnamese nationals are not entitled to property as they are not Cambodian citizens, according to the announcement.
According to official data from the provincial administration, there are a total of 4,563 families to be relocated from the river. Of those families, 2,480, or some 10,311 people, are of Vietnamese origin.
A total of 2,010 Cambodian families, amounting to 9,168 people, and 73 Muslim families, 243 people, are also to be moved.
Adhoc provincial coordinator Som Chankea could not be reached for comment.