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Koh Kong land dispute to be reinvestigated

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
Protesters gather outside the Land Management Ministry. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The Land Management Ministry on Friday announced that it will solve a land dispute in the province following a weeks-long demonstration by hundreds of villagers who descended upon the ministry’s office in Phnom Penh.

Three groups making up hundreds of villagers from Koh Kong province gathered in front of the ministry office and marched from Samaki Raingsey pagoda to the cabinet office of Prime Minister Hun Sen, demanding governmental institutions to accelerate conflict resolution with Union Development Group, Koh Kong Sugar Industry and Koh Kong Plantation.

Addressing the demonstration, the ministry on Friday released a statement saying that a working group will inspect land and identify who exactly is the proper occupier of the land.

“The working team will do inspections on Monday,” it said. “It will continue working until a resolution is reached to end the dispute.”

Tep Thon, undersecretary of state with the ministry and head of its Working Group for Land Dispute Resolution, said the goal was to find a suitable solution for both parties.

“The working group will go to the field to commence the identification process and find a solution for both parties,” Mr Thon said.

Previously, authorities had distributed hectares of land and some money to hundreds of villagers as compensation, claiming that the decades-long land dispute in the province was solved.

However, the weeks-long demonstrations by more villagers came after authorities failed to distribute compensation to 375 families.

Kuch Sokunthy, a representative of 302 households in Sre Ambel and Botum Sakor districts, said that this particular group of people did not receive compensation as 316 households previously did because a number of people migrated to work in Thailand and were not able to verify their thumbprints with the authorities during a land distribution deal.

Ms Sokunthy said yesterday that documents pertaining to land ownership have been prepared to show as evidence of ownership to the authorities.

Koh Kong provincial authorities on Thursday published a statement saying that a provincial working group is purposed with the collection of data of those affected by the land dispute, including Union Development Group and the sugar giants investing in the province.

“On [Monday], the working team will go to Kiri Sakor and Botum Sakor districts,” it read. “On May 23 and 24, the working team will inspect Sre Ambel and Botum Sakor districts.”

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