A Cambodian People’s Party official on Sunday said that the government has correctly handled the way land disputes are solved and accused some protestors of being paid to raise the issue during election season.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said on Sunday that the government has worked hard to handle land disputes.
“The government made the effort to resolve land disputes through judicial and non-judicial settlements, and reduce the amount of people impacted by Economic Land Concessions,” he said.
But Mr Eysan said that regardless of what the government does to resolve land disputes, movements continue to rise just prior to the election.
“And now, after the election is complete, the situation is good. If there is a real dispute, why are they so quiet now?” he said. “This clearly indicates that the pre-election protests were done by people who hope to incite others in order to create chaos and destroy the national election.”
A man who goes by the name Hak, a representative of 66 families in Oddar Meanchey province’s Anlong Veng district, said that they have been locked in a 300-hectare land dispute since last year.
Mr Hak said that residents rallied in Phnom Penh to seek a resolution before the election last month. He said that authorities told them to stay quiet while a solution was being worked out.
“We are really affected by the land dispute, we don’t have land for farming or to feed our family. In the past, they also alleged that someone gave us money to protest,” Mr Hak said. “But in reality, through technology, we were able to communicate and band together in order to make the protests happen.”
Routh Sophal, a representative of 210 families in Koh Kong province locked in a land dispute with two major companies, said that they have protested many times in the past.
Mr Sophal said that his group stopped protesting because the Land Management Ministry told them that a solution was also in the works.
“We protested before because we didn’t have land – we lost it. If there’s a solution, we’ll stop protesting and demanding land,” Mr Sophal said.
Land Management Ministry spokesman Seng Lot and ministry undersecretary of state Tep Thorn could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Prior to the election, hundreds of people representing thousands of families throughout the provinces and the capital descended upon government offices demanding solutions for their disputes.
The ministry responded by saying that studies were being conducted to solve the issues.