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Koh Kong authorities resolve 80 percent of UDG land dispute

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:
Koh Kong provincial governor Mithona Phouthorng holds a press conference at the Council of Ministers. KT/Khem Sovannara

Koh Kong provincial authorities said yesterday they have resolved the grievances of 1,000 families involved in a long-running land dispute with Chinese corporation Union Development Group, noting talks are ongoing to resolve the issue with 184 other families.

Sok Sothy, provincial deputy governor, said at a press conference in Phnom Penh: “We have resolved the problem of more than 80 percent of the families living inside the development area.”

He added that negotiations are ongoing to resolve the claims by 184 families living in the 1,000-hectare disputed land area in Kiri Sakor district’s Prek Khsach commune.

“We are negotiating on whether to relocate the villagers or request the company to give them land on the development site,” Mr Sothy said.

In January last year, Wang Chao, vice-president of UDG, gave Khmer Times an exclusive interview on the company’s plans for the leased land.

He said UDG was granted a 99-year lease on 36,000 hectares in the province’s Kiri Sakor and Botum Sakor districts from the government in 2008 and agreed in 2010 to build a mixed-tourism development at a cost of $3.8 billion.

Mithona Phouthorng, Koh Kong provincial governor, said the authorities have been resolving the dispute since 2018 and negotiations are underway with the remainder of the families involved.

“Our Koh Kong provincial authorities are trying hard to end the land dispute by the end of this year,” she said.

Sem Thy, 53, who lives in Prek Khsach commune’s Prek Khsach village, said yesterday most of the villagers have not agreed to relocate from the current site, noting that he has lived there since 1984.

“I will not move out of my home or land to a new site because we have been cultivating cassava and cashew trees and other crops in our current location,” he said, adding the area offered to them for relocation was not developed for occupation.

Hour In, provincial coordinator for rights group Licadho, yesterday expressed concern that the remaining families will face forced eviction if authorities fail to find a suitable resolution, as has been done in previous disputes.

UDG has forced more than 1,000 families from their homes over the past 10 years. Many of the displaced have not received adequate compensation for their loss, according to Mr In.

“Previous villagers were provided with an unfair resolution and received inadequate compensation. They even travelled to protest in Phnom Penh,” Mr In said. “So the authorities should provide a suitable resolution for the remaining families [in the dispute].”

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