Hundreds hold protest at ministry over land dispute

About 200 people from Kampong Speu province’s Thpong and Oral districts yesterday gathered to protest again at the Land Management Ministry, asking it to expedite a resolution for their land dispute with the Phnom Penh Sugar Company.

Nhim Ran, a resident from Thpong district, said that they gathered again at the ministry because they want it to expedite the 10-year-old dispute which has affected their livelihoods, resulting in their children being unable to attend school.

“We have asked the ministry to intervene in the matter and tell the company to provide suitable compensation and also not to intimidate us,” he said.

Mr Ran added that they are seeking $5,000 in compensation for each hectare of land and also payment for other forms of damage arising from the dispute that began in 2010.

Another resident, Ly Lor, said they had sought intervention from the ministry several times already and it promised to resolve the issue, noting that they came back to seek intervention again because there is still no resolution.

“We want the ministry to help intervene and resolve the dispute quickly so that we can improve our livelihood,” he said.

Soeung Sokhom, from Oral district, said that last year ministry officials and district authorities went to resolve the dispute by offering compensation of $300 to $500 for each family, but they refused.

“Some people have between two and three hectares of land, and some have seven or eight hectares. But they only offered compensation of up to $500, so we could not accept it,” he said.

According to eyewitnesses, police monitored the gathering and there was no untoward incidents.

Ministry spokesman Seng Lot declined to comment.

Representatives of tycoon Ly Yong Phat’s Phnom Penh Sugar Company could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Lun Chanda, Thpong district governor who attended a meeting with ministry officials and representatives of the protesters yesterday, said that the ministry’s working team has been coordinating to find a solution and officials said they will go to meet affected people after the Khmer New Year.

“The ministry is conducting research to resolve the case,” he said. “After Khmer New Year, the working team will go to meet people directly in each community and work with them.”