Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday ordered the Koh Kong provincial governor to clarify reports that state mangrove forests in the province have been grabbed and filled with sand to create land for development.
Speaking during the closing ceremony for an annual conference on decentralisation, Mr Hun Sen said that he had read news reports about the land grabs and wanted clarification from Governor Mithona Phouthorng.
“I heard that someone filled the area with sand and they want to make a city,” he said. “Who allowed them to do so?”
“I do not know if it is true or not, but it was published by newspapers and broadcast on TV, and there has not yet been any clarification,” he added.
“We must investigate this case and see how and why they grabbed state-protected land.”
The premier criticised the provincial governor, secretary of states, the deputy governor and the district governor for not responding to the reports.
He then ordered Environment Minister Say Samal, Land Management Minister Chea Sophara and Ms Phouthorng to take action on the issue. After the conference, Ms Phouthorng said the site in question was in Mondol Seima district. She said the land was grabbed by a tycoon who filled the area with sand.
Ms Phouthorng could not confirm how many hectares had been grabbed, but said that the area was community land.