Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration spokesperson Kheang Phearum told The Post on Sunday that the 35ha being bulldozed by Royal Group Co Ltd in Koh Rong belongs to it after it was leased to it for 99 years by the government in 2008.
Phearum said the land does not belong to the 53 families who are protesting its clearing because they believe they are the rightful owners.
He called on the families protesting at the site in Koh Rong commune, Koh Rong town, to cooperate with the authorities by providing related documents to find a solution.
If they still cause social chaos, authorities will take legal action against them, he said.
“The company is bulldozing a site measuring 35ha. This is one card [land ownership card] among 30 that the government decided to give to Royal Group for 99 years starting from 2008.
“This case is not related to sub-decree 48 released on April 4, 2018, which allocated land to citizens,” he said.
Experts checked the citizens’ ownership documents and found that their land was located elsewhere.
Phearum said if the citizens have documents proving they own the disputed land, they have to take it to the provincial administration and authorities will work with them.
“The administration will follow the law. If citizens are unhappy, they can file complaints to the administration at all levels.
“We should not protest because that does not respect the law. People who claim to have ownership documents should present them to us as we want to clarify the matter,” he said.
The provincial administration, Phearum said, held a press conference on Saturday and said the government decided to allow Koh Rong to become privately owned in 2008.
The government issued 36 land ownership cards, 30 of which went to Royal Group, valid for 99 years.
He said in 2016, the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction created 21 teams to measure and collect data from the actual land the citizens occupied.
The government issued sub-decree 48 on January 4, 2018, which re-allocated 528.37ha of land to 298 families who would establish residences on 637 plots. Land ownership certificates were given to citizens in April 2018.
At the press conference, the administration said: “The provincial land in land certificate numbers 009 and 0010 released on July 2, 2009, rented to Royal Group Co Ltd is not related to the plot under sub-decree 48 released on April 4, 2018, by the government.
“The locations where the company is bulldozing fall under nine ownership cards and equals 350,000sqm.”
One of the 53 protesting families said on Sunday that it has lived in the area since 1992 and has ownership documents.
“We won’t go anywhere. I will gather to protest at this site. We dare not enter the bulldozing site. I want Prime Minister Hun Sen to see and tackle this issue for us. We all have ownership documents. My land here is 100m by 150m,” a family member said.