Jarai commune chief sticks to his roots

Mom Sophon / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Commune chief Mao Khlan says he will make public services transparent. Supplied

A newly elected commune chief in Ratanakkiri province has vowed to solve local problems by referring to his Jarai heritage and traditions. 
Mao Khlan won the backing of residents in O’Yadav district’s Lumchor commune for the CPP.
Ratanakkiri is the only province where Jarai people live in Cambodia, while the majority of the ethnic group are based in Vietnam’s central highlands. 
Mr Khlan received 712 votes in the recent polls, while his CNRP competitor got 563. 
The new commune chief said he is familiar with issues in the area because he used to be a member of Lumchor commune’s council.
“Roads are the most important thing that we need to improve the living condition of people in my commune,” he said. 
“For issues relating to land disputes, I will try to resolve conflicts through legal measures and according to the traditions of my indigenous people.”
 Den Khorny, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said disputes must be treated on a case-by-case basis, but some issues could be resolved through traditional methods, without the need for legal intervention. 
“It is not appropriate to use this approach for criminal matters, but community land disputes can be resolved through ethnic traditions, which is better since the two sides of the dispute are required to reconcile and don’t need to go through the courts,” he said.  
Mr Khlan said he will also take action to improve public services for locals. 
At the moment, there is no commune headquarters where people can contact officials. Residents must instead go to the house of the commune chief to ask for help. “We already have the land for a commune hall but are waiting for the budget to build it,” he said, adding that all public services would be delivered transparently and at a fixed price.

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