Kampong Chhnang provincial Governor Chhour Chandoeun yesterday dismissed rumours that the government is giving land concessions to Vietnamese people from a floating village on Tonle Sap lake.
He said that the provincial authorities are in the process of resettling Cambodians and Vietnamese from the floating village to dry land, but foreigners will not be allowed to own their plots.
“I want to clarify to everyone and also to some media outlets which said that the government has sub-divided land to give to the Vietnamese. It is not right,” Mr Chandoeun said. “All these Vietnamese people are migrants and cannot be given concessions to own land.”
He noted that the Vietnamese have to abide by Cambodia’s immigration law just like Cambodians living abroad have to follow those countries’ laws.
“We will not allow people to live on Tonle Sap lake because we need to keep the water clean and fresh for people and animals to use,” Mr Chandoeun said.
He noted that there are about 1,700 floating houses on the lake which are occupied by nearly 2,000 Vietnamese families and more than 2,000 houses with more than 2,000 Cambodian families.
Mr Chandoeun said all these people will be relocated to a proposed 40-hectare site in Rolea Ba’ier district’s Svay Chrum commune.
He noted that provincial authorities planned to relocate them last year, but have been delayed due to a lack of proper infrastructure, such as roads, schools and markets at the site.
Mr Chandoeun said authorities need more time to provide the required infrastructure and that in the meantime, most of the floating village people have moved off of the lake to temporarily live on an island.
In May, Rhona Smith, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia, visited people at the floating villages in the Kingdom and called on authorities to ensure that all temporary and permanent relocation sites have necessary infrastructure.
“Any relocation site must have ample water, sanitation, electricity, a transport infrastructure and offer access to an appropriate livelihood to support an adequate standard of living,” she said at the time.
Mr Chandoeun said that the authorities are looking into the needs of the floating villagers and will not relocate them until there are factories, a market, schools and a hospital at the relocation site.
“They can work in factories, sell goods in the market and also fish to earn a living,” he noted.