The Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction yesterday promised to settle land disputes between villagers and sugar companies granted economic land concessions in Kampong Speu, Koh Kong and Preah Vihear provinces.
Minister Chea Sophara made the promise after an inter-ministerial meeting at his office with Environment Minister Say Samal, Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon and Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak.
About 90 villagers involved in a land dispute with sugar companies in Koh Kong province had gathered outside the ministry to await the result.
The disputes involve Koh Kong Sugar Industry, Koh Kong Plantation and Heng Huy Development, relating to 782 hectares of land in Botum Sakor and Sre Ambel districts.
Mr Sophara told those assembled that their disputes will be solved transparently.
“For those who have already received land or money, please do protest any more,” he said. “But for those who have not yet received any conflict resolution, please collect all necessary documents and bring them to the district hall.”
“For those who have not yet received anything, please do not be afraid,” he added. “Just do not cheat in any way, or incite problems, because these disputes will soon be solved transparently.”
In a press release issued after the meeting, Mr Sophara called on villagers affected by the disputes in Kampong Speu’s Oral district and Preah Vihear’s Tbaeng Meanchey and Chey Sen districts to complete necessary paperwork by October 3 to expedite resolution.
“Any individual who falsifies documents or incites problems will be held responsible by the law,” the press release added.
Phav Nherng, a representative of 175 families battling the three companies in Koh Kong province, lauded the ministry’s action plan presented after the meeting, but noted villagers will not hesitate to protest again if promises are broken.
“If we do not see the provincial working group collecting documents from the people in 30 days, we will come to protest again,” she said. “We have already requested intervention at the provincial and district level, but have never received a solution. But this time, under the direction of Chea Sophara, we hope to have a solution.”