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Minister to address claims of land grabs in Angkor Archaeological Park

Culture Minister Phoeurng Sackona speaks at the ministry’s annual meeting in February.
Culture Minister Phoeurng Sackona speaks at the ministry’s annual meeting in February. Heng Chivoan

Minister to address claims of land grabs in Angkor Archaeological Park

Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona yesterday said she would address in writing allegations that Apsara Authority officials have been extorting money from villagers, allowing land grabs in the Angkor Archaeological Park and leasing land to a company.

The Apsara Authority is also being asked to explain how the agency spends its budget, which went from $15 million to $25 million between 2010 and 2014, according to a letter signed by National Assembly President Heng Samrin and Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker Son Chhay.

Chhay couldn’t be reached for comment yesterday. Villagers building in areas where construction is allowed were asked for money by officials, while construction in prohibited areas wasn’t being halted, the letter says. The letter also claims authority officials leased 23 hectares of land to Sok Kong for a 99-year term for $9.66 million. Kong couldn’t be reached for comment.

“How is the minister going to take measure on these bad officials?” the letter reads. Sackona said she will send a letter to the National Assembly clarifying the issues that have been raised.

“It is up to Apsara,” she said of how soon she could respond. “They are looking into it.”

Chau Sun Kerya, spokeswoman for the Apsara Authority, acknowledged some of the claims were serious but declined to discuss them yesterday, maintaining Sackona would address them. She also maintained the 99-year lease to Sok Kong was legal.

The authority was recently transferred under the Ministry of Culture after the passing of late deputy prime minister Sok An.

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