Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Koh Kong villagers protest alleged land grab by Chinese company

Koh Kong villagers protest alleged land grab by Chinese company

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Villagers from Koh Kong province’s Kiri Sakor district had been protesting outside the Environment Ministry in Phnom Penh since Monday. Heng Chivoan

Koh Kong villagers protest alleged land grab by Chinese company

Villagers from Koh Kong province’s Kiri Sakor district have been protesting in the capital this week after their petition over a land dispute with the Chinese Union Development Group (UDG), delivered to the Environment Ministry on May 25, went unanswered.

The villagers returned to the capital on Monday, leaving on Thursday, and were protesting outside the ministry, demanding a solution.

Chay Kimhuoch, 39, from Kiri Sakor’s Phney Meas commune, claimed she bought 26 hectares of land from villagers in 2007, and that the UDG illegally grabbed it the following year.

“I have my documents from the commune authorities to prove it. I have my coconut, cashew and mango trees, which I have not harvested yet,” she said.

Provincial authorities allegedly tried to stop them from travelling to Phnom Penh to protest, but to no avail.

“The authorities blocked us from using National Road 48, so our van turned around. But we found another way to get here. I walked about 20km and used another car to reach Phnom Penh. I thought the authorities would block us again, but we made it,” she said.

Kimhuoch and her fellow protesters, some of whom had previously made trips to the ministry over the dispute, left on Thursday after meeting with Minister Say Sam Al for some 20 minutes. Sam Al pledged to investigate their allegations.

“This is the fourth time [we have come to Phnom Penh]. We have met the minister, and he told us to give him time. So we agreed to leave the ministry."

“We will wait to see what he will do in the next 10 days or so. As it is close to the election, we are worried we might be accused of being rebels,” she said.

Another protester, Leav Tam, who claimed to have owned his land in Koh Kong since the fall of the Khmer Rouge, said he first came to the ministry in 2008, but the dispute has still not been settled.

“I was born there [on his land in Koh Kong], now 7.5 hectares of our land have been taken by the UDG. We have had a dispute with the company since 2008. My parents have lived on the land since 1979."

“It is our legitimate land and the authorities have recognised this. They [UDG] have not developed our land yet, and have left it untouched. But we are unable to get access to it,” he said.

A ministry official who asked to remain anonymous as he was not authorised to speak to the press said it has started looking into the dispute.

“We are now processing the documents and petitions. The villagers have come to follow up on their petition. This morning, we had a meeting with them and Sam Al talked to their representatives. Now they have returned to their province,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with

  • PM takes time to meet, greet Cambodians living in the US

    After landing in the US ahead of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen was received by over 1,000 Cambodian-Americans including political analysts who welcomed him with greetings, fist bumps and selfies. Hun Sen also met with analyst Mak Hoeun, who had allegedly spoken ill

  • Khmer cinema classics back on big screen for free at WB Arena’s outdoor movies series

    On a recent Saturday evening at WB Arena, Bunsong was enjoying a tasty BBQ meal with his family after work on the long tables that had been arranged out in front of the restaurant as they watched a Khmer action movie on a big outdoor

  • PM heads to Washington for ASEAN-US special summit

    Regional and international issues and how to bring the ASEAN-US partnership to another level will be discussed at length as Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ministers arrive in Washington, DC, for a special summit on May 12-13. During the trip, Hun Sen and ASEAN

  • National Assembly refutes EU resolution

    The National Assembly (NA) has hit back at a European Parliament resolution condemning the political and human rights situation in Cambodia, calling it another display of the Parliament’s “double standards”. Key points of the resolution include a warning that the Parliament could exclude the