Prime Minister Hun Sen has given the governors of Battambang and Pailin provinces two weeks to resolve the boundaries issue between the two, in order to make it easier for people to manage land ownership and register to vote.
During an October 17 graduation ceremony, he said the boundary issue between them goes back to 1996. In almost 30 years, no resolution has been found.
“I spoke by phone with the two governors. I have made it clear that I expect the problem to be solved within the next two weeks, or I will handle it myself. This is hardly an international border issue, so I believe they will be able to find a solution themselves,” he said.
He said he had told Battambang governor Sok Lou that his province is large enough that partitioning a few thousand hectares to Pailin should not be a problem.
“I also let Minister of Interior Sar Kheng and the National Assembly know that this needs to be resolved, so that land titles can be issued and people can register for next year’s general election. Both Lou and Pailin governor Ban Srey Mom are aware of the urgency,” he added.
The premier noted that numerous provincial governors have been unable to find a final solution to the issue. Citing his enquiries, he revealed that some powerful people own the disputed land and have prevented the Battambang Provincial Administration from ceding the land to Pailin.
“To the people involved – your mango plantations will not disappear. The land in both provinces will remain in Cambodia, and you will still be able to collect your crops. I am also assured that it will be easier for Pailin to administer the land, as it is closer to administrative offices. From the Battambang side, it is very remote,” he added.
Lou told the Post on October 17 that after receiving the order, he had visited the area and had arranged to meet with his Pailin counterpart to inspect the area together.
“We have already mapped out a solution to this problem,” he said, noting that adjusting the provincial border would affect Samlot and Kamrieng districts
“We will try to follow the prime minister’s orders,” he said.
Am Sam Ath, deputy director of rights group LICADHO, said unclear demarcation of the boundaries could lead to many problems for the public, especially when land disputes arise.
“A lack of clear demarcation has led to many issues, including requests for public services,” he said.