Nearly 20 indigenous Chong people from two communes in Koh Kong province yesterday petitioned the Provincial Hall to ask the governor to speed up the process of registering them as an ethnic community group.
Ven Vorn, 40, a representative for the Chong community in Thmar Baing district’s Chumnoab commune, yesterday said that nine months ago they submitted letters requesting registration from commune and district authorities who passed them onto provincial authorities.
He said that they still have not been registered, which is why they submitted the petition asking the provincial authority to speed up the process to obtain the recognition from the Rural Development Ministry.
“We want the provincial governor to please intervene and request for our community to be recognised as a Chong ethnic minority group soon,” Mr Vorn said. “If we are not legally recognised, we will not be able to protect our land, natural resources, traditions, and lifestyle of our community.”
Ham Nget, 40, a representative of the Chong community in Bralay commune, said yesterday that they want provincial authorities to speed up the registration process at the national level because they have been discriminated against by local authorities who do not recognise them as an ethnic minority.
“After the Khmer Rouge era, it seems as if the village and commune authorities don’t want to recognise us as an indigenous people,” she said. “Our generation has to make sure our identity is not lost because we have land, traditions and sacred places which need protection.”
Chheng Sok Kheuy, documentation office deputy director at the Provincial Hall, yesterday confirmed that he had received the petition and said he would send it to the governor and provincial officials.
“After receiving the letter, the provincial administration will send it to our experts so that they can study the procedures and help to facilitate the registration,” he said. “The experts will study their status because there are also recognised Chong ethnic minority people living in the district.”