Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Villagers dubious of thumbprint request

Villagers dubious of thumbprint request

Villagers dubious of thumbprint request

More than 100 ethnic Phnong families embroiled in a land dispute with Vietnamese firm Binh Phuoc Kratie Co in Mondulkiri’s Keo Seima district yesterday refused authorities’ requests to submit thumbprints as part of a suggested resolution to the issue, out of fear they would be signing away their lands.

“We will no longer be cheated,” Phnong community member Yan Mao said. “They asked us for thumbprints in order to reach a settlement, but they need our thumbprints to tell the company that we have agreed to give them land.”

Authorities called on the local commune chief to coerce residents to submit their thumbprints, but villagers have been steadfast in their rejection, resident Roy Sokha said yesterday.

“We are afraid that if we make the thumbprints, the company will win the case and we will lose and be jailed,” he said. “That is why we are saying no. The commune chief has given us from March 24th to the 30th. After, they will take further measures.”

But Sre Chhouk commune chief Yorng Bun yesterday denied the allegations, saying authorities had requested the registration as a way of counting how many people live in the area.

“We did not coerce them. First, we asked them to make thumbprints, but they refused. Then, we asked them to register, but they still didn’t,” he said. “If there is no solution, then I will not be responsible, because it is their fault.”

Residents voiced their distrust of government officials over the thumbprint scheme due to similar reports in which villagers were the victims of dishonest dealings, said Sok Ratha, the provincial coordinator of local rights group Adhoc.

“They have [in the past] brought people’s thumbprints, but reached no solution, apart from people losing their land,” he said. “That’s why people don’t have confidence.”

Binh Phuoc Kratie Rubber I was in November 2011 granted a 70-year concession contract covering 8,926 hectares in Keo Seima district for agro-industrial purposes. Meanwhile, the Phnong community has built more than 170 homes on 1,100 hectares of disputed territory.

Phan Si Binh, the owner of Binh Phuoc Kratie, could not be reached for comment.

MOST VIEWED

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    The Ministry of Health has issued a directive on the treatment of people who have tested positive for the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant, following a suggestion from Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of January 21. The directive permits home quarantine for those who

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • Mr Pancake or M Crepe? Tasty by any title

    Crowds of people gather around a lone man with a mobile food cart every day at around 2pm in front of the Institut Francais du Cambodge to order what many say are the best crepes in Phnom Penh. To some – even to the man making

  • Fourth dose Covid booster drive jabs 43K in two days

    In the first two days of the fourth-dose Covid-19 vaccination campaign, more than 43,000 people volunteered to get the jabs, while over 4.6 million people have received a third shot. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said that fourth-dose vaccinations, which began on January 14 exclusively with the Pfizer

  • Phnom Penh condo market loses steam

    Just four new condominiums were launched for sale last year in the capital, down from 17 in 2020, according to research by CBRE Cambodia. The four developments comprised “more than 1,000” units, while the 17 in 2020 consisted of 10,866, the real estate firm reported. CBRE Cambodia categorises condos as “high-range”, “

  • Singapore backs Cambodia's efforts on Myanmar

    Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong supports Cambodia in its efforts to seek a solution to the ongoing Myanmar crisis as the chair of ASEAN. Lee expressed his support during a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen via videoconference on January 14, with the talks focused