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Massage workers strike in Siem Reap

30 Nov

source: | November 30, 2015

Alaska Massage Center workers hold placards during a protest in front of the company’s office yesterday morning in Siem Reap, where they demanded an increase in staff wages.

(Alaska Massage Center workers hold placards during a protest in front of the company’s office yesterday morning in Siem Reap, where they demanded an increase in staff wages)

More than 70 workers from a Korean-owned massage centre in the tourist hub of Siem Reap protested in front of their workplace yesterday, demanding a basic wage of $177 per month and a $100 yearly health bonus.

Workers from the Alaska Massage Center have been on strike since Friday following their employer’s repeated refusal to increase wages, said Eang Kenghuy, a masseur and the head of the centre’s Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation (CFSWF) union chapter.

“The authorities asked workers to suspend our strike for a month to find a resolution. But we have not agreed because we have been asking our employer for higher wages and health bonuses since February, but we have had no results,” he said.

The workers appear to have chosen their $177 demand after independent garment unions pushed for the same figure as the sector’s minimum wage for the last two years.

Garment workers are the only employees in the Kingdom who have a set minimum wage, which was raised to $140 a month for 2016 from the current $128 rate.

Kenghuy said that the massage workers only make between $50 and $70 a month, which is not enough to live on given rising prices.

“Since we’ve started working here, we have have never received health bonuses and our wages are so low that we cannot support our living standards,” he said.

“The employer receives a lot of money from the clients, so they should think about workers’ living standards.”

However, the owners of the massage centre appear unrelenting.

Kim Timkyung, an interpreter for the owners, said the workers’ demands were “illegal” and contrary to the Labour Law.

“The demand to increase their basic wage to $177 per month is not right, because the Cambodian Labour Law states that workers who work for the service industry, especially in tourism, do not have a minimum wage,” he said.

“They don’t have any evidence or whatever to show us for their demands,” accusing the CFSWF of instigating the strike.

However, CFSWF president Sar Mora rejected the charge, saying the situation boiled over because of employers’ refusal to increase wages.

“The workers have the right to strike,” he said, adding that all workers have the right to demand a minimum wage.

“Up to now, we know that the government has set a basic wage only for the garment and footwear industry, but it does not mean workers from other industries do not have a right to demand their own basic wage.”

Mora said the workers would continue their protest until they received concessions.

Ethnic villagers reject Mega First cash offer

30 Nov

source: | November 30, 2015

Phnong ethnic villagers block a road in O’Raing district earlier this month during a protest against Mega First Corporation.

(Phnong ethnic villagers block a road in O’Raing district earlier this month during a protest against Mega First Corporation)

An ethnic community in Mondulkiri province has rejected a cash offer from a company that wants to clear thousands of hectares of forest locals claim as their own, saying they value the land more than money.

Phnong ethnic villagers who live in Ou Reang district’s Dak Dam commune have turned down $20,000 from power, resources and property development company Mega First Corporation, which the company suggested the community use to celebrate its religion.

“We had a meeting and decided that we would not take the money from the company because we won’t allow them to clear forest we have conserved,” said community representative Toeng Thi.

“We have looked after this forest for a long time, which, along with the land, is our life and our future.”

According to Mondulkiri Adhoc coordinator Sok Rotha, Mega First Corporation was granted a concession on 9,000 hectares of land in the area by the government in 2012.

“The company has cleared about 500 hectares already and wants to continue clearing,” he said. “The villagers have protested about this three times already.”

It was for villagers to decide whether to accept the compensation offer, he added.

Dak Dam commune chief Som Vanny said the authorities had tried to negotiate with the villagers. “We do not want them come to protest again and again, nor do we want any violence,” he said.

Land Grabs Often Driven by Investors Seeking Land, Global Witness Says

30 Nov

Source: | November 25, 2015

Josie Cohen, Senior Land Campaigner at Global Witness talks to VOA Khmer at Global Witness head office in London about land grabbing issues in Cambodia, November 19, 2015. (Phorn Bopha/VOA Khmer)

(Josie Cohen, Senior Land Campaigner at Global Witness talks to VOA Khmer at Global Witness head office in London about land grabbing issues in Cambodia, November 19, 2015.)

[Editor’s note: Researchers at the environmental watchdog Global Witness say Cambodia’s ongoing land crisis is part of a larger global trend, one driven by economics and resource shortages. With less stability in markets and investments, investors have gone looking for farmland in countries like Cambodia, where it is easy to strike a deal, says Josie Cohen, a campaigner who has researched land grabs in the Mekong Delta for Global Witness. She recently spoke with VOA Khmer to describe the phenomenon in Cambodia and in the global and regional context.]

Could you tell us your work background on land-grabbing? 

I’ve worked on land-grabbing specifically for the last six years, but I’ve been at Global Witness for about three and half years, where I’ve been focusing specifically on the Mekong region, so looking at land-grabbing in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

Could you tell us the changes in terms of land-grabbing over the last ten years in Asia?

Since 2008 actually, globally, but also specifically in the Asian region, there’s been a massive increase in land-grabbing in commercial companies looking for areas, large scale land areas, which often they’ve taken from local communities without compensation, without consulting land holders, and turning those areas into commercial plantations to grow crops, like rubber, sugar, cassava, corn, which then they grow on a large scale and often sell to the global market. We’ve also seen a move where logging companies are actually accessing large areas of land which they say is for agriculture, but actually is just an excuse to access valuable timber to log and to export to places like China and Vietnam.

Does this have some benefit for the states or the nations at all, or does it only bring disaster?

I mean the governments of the countries have certainly talked about it as a benefit. They’ve talked about development, infrastructure, roads, the fact that these commercial plantations provide jobs for local people, but actually it’s very hard to find examples where large-scale commercial plantations are benefiting the local population. What we’ve seen somewhere like Cambodia, but also in Myanmar and Laos, it’s actually companies come in, they rob local populations of the natural resources that they are relying on for their livelihood, and the jobs that they promise often don’t emerge. They also promise things like school and wealth and roads, which often those promises aren’t kept. They tend to not pay much tax to the states. So actually it’s hard to see cases where plantations are bringing the development benefits that they promise. And really what Global Witness has seen is actually it tends to be corrupt officials, whether it’s national or local level, that are striking deals with companies to give away this land, and actually it’s this very small group of cronies who are really benefitting from the land-grabbing, rather than the general population.

Could you tell us the risk that poses to lay people, for example farmers? For example Cambodia itself, most of the population live their lives dependent on agriculture.

As you say, I mean 75 percent of the Mekong region’s population relies on land for agriculture or non-timber forest products. For example, they would go to the forest and tap resin from the trees and use that to supplement their livelihood. So it’s very hard to overstate the impact of a company turning up one day with no notice at all and suddenly their livelihoods that they’ve rely upon for generations is bulldozed down, their forest is stolen. So there’s livelihood impacts, and people are just struggling to make a living and also then having to become agricultural labor. For example, a farmer who for generations has decided what he wants to do with his land and is a landowner will now go overnight to being an agricultural laborer, often where the conditions are very poor, where the pay is poor.

Sometimes the work is only seasonal, so it’s only in the harvest season, but also there’s a livelihood impact. There’s something about identity, so you see in all countries, but particularly in Cambodia, many indigenous communities particularly in the northeast of Cambodia, where their identity and their spirituality and their religion are very in touch with the land. So it’s much more than an economic benefit, and I think this is something that the government and the companies simply refuse to understand. I mean these people are losing a way of life that their people have followed for hundreds and hundreds of years, and their way of life, their language their clothes, are all under threat because of these land grabs.

Why do government and these powerful people refuse to understand this? 

I mean there are powerful interests at play, and there’s big money involved. I think those interests get prioritized by the government and by a small number of cronies over the benefit of their own population. We are talking about countries with very high levels of corruption, with weak governance, so what you have is actually in Cambodia for example where the law is very good—you have an excellent land law in 2001, you have the sub-decree on economic land concessions in 2005—and these laws say that these communities have to be compensated, have to be brought development benefits. But these law are just completely ignored. And then you also have where the justice system or the courts are on the side of the powerful people, so it impossible for affected communities and for indigenous people to see justice. And in fact the courts are used against them. So I think there’s just too much money involved and powerful forces involved.

I want to go straight to Cambodia’s issue on that. Is it now at risk because of land-grabbing? What have you seen since you started working on Cambodia? What are the changes?

I started working on Cambodia, I suppose in 2011, so it’s been about four years. Land-grabbing was already a huge problem, and much of the country has already been allocated out to various cronies, which led to a situation in the run-up to the commune elections in 2012 and the general election in 2013, where Prime Minister Hun Sen really felt that he had to show he was doing something because more and more people were being displaced from their lands. They say there’s up to 700,000 Cambodian people who have been negatively affected by these land grabs. So what we’ve seen then was a whole series of supposed solutions from the prime minister and from the government. So first of all he calls the moratorium on economic land concessions and says no more land is going to be granted, when in reality a number of concessions have been granted since he called in a ban.

Then he sent student volunteers out into the countryside and started this land titling scheme, where they said they were going to issue up to a million land titles. But a again it was not done transparently, no monitoring was allowed by civil society organizations, and I know that many, many communities in Cambodia feel that the situation hasn’t been solved. You know in recent years what we have seen, Hun Sen has recently reduced the leases on lands, from some 99 years to 50 years, and we’ve also seen some land concessions canceled. So the Cambodia government is making some noise, to show that they are trying to resolve this situation. But actually, I would argue that none of these solutions would get to the root of the problem. And I know that human rights organizations in Cambodia and many affected communities feel the same. And actually the situation is getting worse, as more and more people are affected by these land grabs.

Have you seen any changes as to whether the government let it loose or held on tighter, in terms of giving land to private companies to do whatever they want?

There has been less allocation, because most of the land is already allocated, but there have been, in terms of companies for example who aren’t meeting the requirement of their contracts, we have not seen the government clamping down on those companies. You know, for example a company that Global Witness exposed in 2013, a state-owned Vietnamese company called the Vietnam Rubber Group, which held a hundred and 160,000 hectares in Cambodia, which is actually 16 times the legal limit because one company is supposed to hold 10,000 hectares. We exposed that and it’s been covered by the media, and it’s been covered by the affected communities, yet the companies were still allowed to hold that amount of land. It’s still getting into conflict with communities. Those conflicts aren’t being resolved. There are some cases where companies have said that they want to resolve the situation and the authorities are very much in the way, not allowing companies to speak directly to affected communities, so really making trouble for communities. So I would say that the situation is getting worse actually.

Have you seen or heard from the government regarding all your reports?

Global Witness has been working in Cambodia since 1995, so for the last 20 years, and now actually in the early years of working there, the response to the reports was sometimes positive. For example at one point we were actually invited in to become the government’s independent forest monitor, and it was Global Witness’ job to monitor Cambodia’s forest to make sure that people wouldn’t be illegally logging, but actually our relationship ended with the government when we launched the report called “Family Tree.” We exposed how the prime minister and some members of his family were getting rich from Cambodia’s forests. Since then the relationship with the government has not been good.

And the response to our reports hasn’t been positive. That’s true up until March this year when we launched “The Cost of Luxury,” again looking at illegal logging and actually the National Assembly formed a parliamentary commission. This is the first time there has been a decent response.

What do you see as the future of land issues in Cambodia in the next 10 years? Is there a solution?

“It’s very hard to say, since Cambodia in the last five years has been such a roller coaster at different events and land is such a key issue to the country. And as the government starts to prepare again for the commune elections in 2017 and then the general election, it’s hard to predict what the prime minister will do. But currently it doesn’t look like the solution is around the corner. What really needs to happen is the government needs to take land back from the companies and reallocate it to local communities and give them hard titles for that land, whether it’s private titles or communal titles, so this can’t happen to them in the future. I don’t see any sign that the Cambodian government is going to do that. But obviously it kind of depends on how political forces line up.

Is Cambodia the country that has the most serious problem or does it come along with other countries? Which country has the most serious problem of land-grabbing?

This is a huge problem and has been since 2008, in Africa, in Latin America, and in Southeast Asia as well.

Actually currently the country which is said to have the most land grabs is South Sudan in Africa. And then also African countries are just so huge compared to Cambodia that the amount of land being taken tends to be bigger. In terms of Southeast Asia, it’s a huge problem in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and also it’s even a big problem in China and in [Papua New Guinea]. I know in Indonesia, there has been a big problem. So it really is a picture of most developing countries now, because since the financial crisis in 2008 and also the world food crisis, they both hit at the same time, and the world started to realize that maybe financial products, stocks and shares, they are not something you can hold onto, and investors started looking for assets that they could invest in. And farmland is one of these assets, so they went out looking for countries where they could strike corrupt deals with governments and just get their hands on lots of land, and if you hold onto the land, the price of it goes up, and you’ll able to sell it on. So it’s a huge problem globally.”

Do you have more projects to work on in Cambodia or are you going to stop at some point?

Global Witness has no plans to stop working in Cambodia. We started in Cambodia, and we are very committed to hoping that the Cambodian people can benefit from their natural resources. Currently, in terms of our future plans, we are still working on a report that we put out in the last two years. So we’re still working with the Vietnamese company, the Vietnam Rubber Group and Hoang Anh Gia Lai to try and help the affected communities in Cambodia get some kind of compensation and remedy.

Timber seizure nabs 30-plus cubic metres in Ratanakkiri

27 Nov | November 27, 2015

People inspect a truck load of rosewood in Ratanakkiri earlier this week after it was seized by authorities.

(People inspect a truck load of rosewood in Ratanakkiri earlier this week after it was seized by authorities.)

An estimated 30 to 40 cubic metres of protected luxury timber was intercepted in Ratanakkiri province on Wednesday night while being hauled to Vietnam, according to local officials.

Nouv Dara, director of Ratanakkiri’s anti-economic crime unit said that a truck loaded with thnong logs was intercepted near the O’Yadav international checkpoint, but was unable to provide further details about the origins of its drivers or contents.

Another customs official on the operation said that officers “halted the vehicle, but the driver managed to flee”, along with his accomplices. He added that the vehicle and timber were impounded at the Ratanakkiri provincial customs office.

However, Chhay Thy, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc who is monitoring the case, reported that the logs were impounded at the office, but that the vehicle had not been seen there.

“The timber was being transported from Mondulkiri to sell in Vietnam,” he said.

Kim Raksmey, provincial military police commander, said that the seized load had not yet been measured.

In a separate case, a 34-year-old man was charged on Wednesday for unlicensed collection of forestry products in Koh Kong province, after two cars transporting rosewood were intercepted in separate locations there.

The first vehicle contained 35 logs and the second 107, reported Kong Puthira, an official at the Ministry of Agriculture.

Activists Want Action on Koh Kong Dredging

27 Nov

source: | November 26, 2015

(Dredging in Koh Kong province)

Anti-dredging activists have called on the Mines and Energy Ministry to investigate what they say are irregularities in sand  dredging operations in Koh Kong province, including what they say is an unclear relationship between some officials and the dredging company.
While most people celebrated the Water Festival by rivers and lakes with festivities and boat races, more than two dozen activists from the Youth Resource Development Program Organization (YRDP) and the environmental organization Mother Nature tried to investigate dredging operations on Wednesday, but say they were blocked from taking photos or getting close by the dredging operators and local officials.
YRDP’s Ny Chetra told Khmer Times that whenever the group tried to look into dredging activities it appeared local officials were trying to block them and protect the companies.
“The Koh Kong provincial office  of Mines and Energy said the dredging boat at Koah Sarlau Island is not illegal because they have a license from the ministry,” he said, “but we found they have a fake license.
“They still can do this because they have powerful officers behind them. Their dredging operations are protected by the local authorities.”
He said the ministry said the operations had little impact on the environment, but the groups wanted to investigate for themselves.
He said that on Wednesday, one dredging boat and local officials prevented the team from taking photos or asking questions, between Tatay village and Andoung Tuek commune.
Thon Ratha, from Mother Nature said there were two companies dredging the area: Direct Access and International Rainbow.
“We don’t know clearly which boat is for which company because the authorities blocked us from taking photos and asking questions,” he told Khmer Times. “Instead, they should show us the licenses, not block us.”
“Khem Sameth, Direct Access chief executive officer, told Khmer Times the dredging boat that blocking the group was not from his company. He said his company was still waiting for a license from the ministry to continue dredging.
“For now, we have stopped dredging and we are waiting from word from the ministry. My company is dredging in Andoung Tuek only,” he said.
International Rainbow executives could not be immediately contacted for comment yesterday.
Mines and Energy Ministry spokesman Dith Tina said the ministry always checked licenses, and studied environmental impact before granting licenses.
“The ministry didn’t order authorities to block anyone. We have a hotline for the dredging issue if anyone sees irregularities,” he said.
“In Koh Kong, we check all licenses and the environmental situation in the areas,” he said.

UN, Gov’t Move to End Violence Against Women

27 Nov

source: | November 26, 2015

The United Nations and the Cambodian Ministry of Women’s Affairs will organize four major events across the country to raise awareness of the need to end violence against women and girls, according to a UN Women’s statement on Wednesday.
The series of events will include running races in coastal Preah Sihanouk province on Sunday and at Angkor Wat in Siem Reap province on December 4, a dance in Phnom Penh on December 6, and an interactive university debate in Battambang province on December 8.
The events are to mark the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence from Wednesday, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to December 10, the International Human Rights Day.
“Violence against women is one of the most pervasive human rights violations in Cambodia,” the statement said. Recent findings show that one in five Cambodian women experience physical or sexual violence in her lifetime, it said, adding that 49 percent of women who experience violence will justify the violence with at least one reason.
It added that 40 percent of the women suffering from violence said they have not sought help because they believe that violence is “common.”
“It is very important to change the perception that violence happens because there is a proper reason. Women should know about their rights and their rights should receive protection from us,” said Wenny Kusuma, director of UN Women-Cambodia.

Kampot dam tries to restore image

23 Nov

Source: | November 23, 2015

Generators produce power at the Kamchay Hydro Dam in Kampot province last week where water was released from the dam caused wide spread damage to villages downstream in August.

(Generators produce power at the Kamchay Hydro Dam in Kampot province last week, where water was released from the dam caused wide spread damage to villages downstream in August)

In the wake of mass flooding, the company behind Cambodia’s first major hydropower dam used a government visit last week to distance itself from recent controversies and quell fears about the project’s alleged downsides.

In September, Kampot province experienced widespread flooding that left thousands temporarily homeless and crippled the local economy after the gates of the Kamchay Hydropower Dam were opened.

The incident was just one of many negative effects of the 194-megawatt dam the community has experienced.

But Zheng Yung, an assistant with Sinohydro, the Chinese state-owned company behind the dam, insisted that it was not at fault.

“The flooding at that time was caused by the rain since it rained for 24 hours a day for many days in a row,” he said.

He added that orders to open the dam’s gates following reports that it was filling beyond its capacity were issued by the Ministry of Mines and Energy.

An official working for the company who asked to remain anonymous later said that if the dam had not been opened “it would not have caused floods only in Kampot province but … in other provinces” too.

Yung, meanwhile, insisted that the devastating flooding had been long-forgotten.

“Everything is good now,” he said. The dam “does not only produce the electricity for the industry and production, but it also serves as a water resource for people to use on thousands of hectares of crops”.

Yung’s efforts to espouse the dam’s successes in electricity supply coincided with a blackout that put a stop to his digital presentation.

Kul Sokha, deputy director of the provincial department of Mines and Energy, said power shortages frequently happen because electricity from the dam is sold to Electricité du Cambodge, which distributes it around the country.

Sokha said about 60 per cent of people in Kampot receive electricity from the dam and “are happy with the result”.

One such person, 41-year-old farmer Van Saroeun, said that after initially having concerns about the dam, his opinion had changed.

“Now I have a different view on the dam; I think that it helps me and the state. For example, it provides water for crop cultivation and it provides electricity,” he said.

But many are not convinced.

A recent report by researchers at the University of London found that the dam has left many worse off.

The study identified issues with “energy access, livelihood changes, environmental impacts, access to natural resources and compensation”.

“Results also reveal divergence between national and local priorities, which in turn brings about an unequal distribution of costs and benefits of the Kamchay Dam between urban and rural areas,” it said.

Kamchay Dam Claims Not Behind Kampot Flood

20 Nov | November 20, 2015

The Chinese company that operates the hydroelectric power plant on the Kamchay River in Kampot province yesterday denied that a decision to open the dam’s gates during a recent storm was the cause of severe flooding in the area.
Zheng Yong, General Manager Assistant of the Sinohydro Kamchay Hydroelectric plant, told Khmer Times yesterday that since the dam began operations in 2012 it has never caused any problems for people living downstream.
In August this year, a flash flood hit people and rice fields. Critics said the flood occurred because the damn released water after heavy rains. The dam has a capacity of 700 million cubic meters.
Mr. Zheng said that the release of the water was at the order of the Cambodian electricity authority (EDC), which wanted an increase in power production.
Kul Sokha, deputy director of the Mines and Energy Department in Kampot, said he does not think the flooding was cause by the release of water from the dam. “It was a seasonal flood,” Mr. Sokha said.
“As you know, Kampot province is always flooded,” Mr. Sokha said, adding that since the dam’s construction flooding had decreased.
Mr. Zheng said: “We help people downstream to avoid facing floods. And we keep water sustainable for them to farm.”
The Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Kamchay Dam was constructed by the Sinohydro Kampchay Hydroelectric Project, a local subsidiary of the Chinese state-owned hydro ower engineering and construction company Sinohydro Corp. It supplies electricity to Kampot province, Preah Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh.
But some nearby residents say the dam has had a negative impact.
Cambodia has six hydropower dams in four provinces – Koh Kong, Pursat, Kampong Speu and Kampot – supplying 62 percent of national electricity production. The country still imports electricity from Vietnam and Thailand.
At a presentation to 45 electrical engineering students from three universities during a two-day study tour to the Kamchay Dam on Wednesday, Ministry of Mines and Energy officials said Cambodia’s dams would increase to seven after the Lower Se San II dam construction finishes in 2017.

15 Arrested Over Illegal Logging

20 Nov | November 20, 2015

Fourteen Cambodian loggers and a Thai national have been arrested in connection with logging activities in Thai territory and are currently in jail awaiting trial, a Cambodian consular official said.
Bun Sokvibol, Cambodian Consul for Sa Kaeo province in Thailand, told Khmer Times the group of loggers had been arrested and valuable timber had been confiscated on Tuesday in the protected area in Sa Kaeo province bordering Banteay Meanchey. Thai local police are preparing the case to send to court.
“Primarily, it is illegal logging conducted in Thailand by our nationals,” Mr, Sokvibol said. “It will be proceeded with under the Thai internal law, however we are meeting them and will provide assistance to our nationals as much as possible.”
According to Mr. Sokvibol, the 14 loggers are mostly from Sampov Loun district of Battambang and from Bakan district of Pursat province, and they were brought illegally into Thailand by a broker on November 1.
Cambodian loggers have been reportedly shot dead, injured or arrested while making the risky crossing into Thailand for logging activities despite the border police and provincial authorities trying to stop them.
Yal Bunpao, an officer at the Cambodian-Thai Border Relations Office in Banteay Meanchey province, said that Thai authorities had not contacted his office and he was contacting Thai officers for the detail of these loggers.
“Most of them normally cross the corridor gates with the broker,” he said. “They never cross with official gates so that’s why we hardly control them.”
Chum Sounry, spokesman for Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the loggers were currently in jail awaiting trial, for which no date has yet been set. But Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong has instructed the consular officials to closely follow this case and give assistance to them.
From the first six months of this year, Thai authorities have gunned down at least five Cambodian nationals who crossed into the neighboring kingdom to illegally log.
Another 15 were arrested and released and 29 others were locked up in Thai prisons, while another 15 went missing.

Ratanakkiri families demand land dispute resolution

19 Nov

Source: | November, 19 2015

More than 150 ethnic Kachak families in Ratanakkiri province have accused the provincial governor of not settling their land dispute despite a months-old order from Prime Minister Hun Sen’s office to do so.

The 162 families in Andong Meas district’s Talao commune filed a complaint to the cabinet office on October 27 last year.

The complaint was forwarded to the National Authority for Land Dispute Resolution, which wrote to Thorng Savuth, the provincial governor, on February 16, telling him to resolve the dispute with Phnom Penh-based landowner Meun Sam An.

Sam An reportedly took over the 116-hectare plot in 2012.

Romam Banh, 54, one of 10 community representatives who filed complaints to the governor on Monday, said the complainants were tired of waiting for resolution.

“We’ve asked Savuth to demarcate the land for us,” he said.

Sam An initially bought 20 hectares of land from villagers for $10,000 in 2011 but later took an additional 116 hectares without permission, planting rubber trees and vegetables.

Chhay Thy, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said he would investigate the claims and forward the villagers’ complaints to the provincial authorities.

Savuth, the provincial governor, could not be reached.

Nhem Sam Oeun, provincial hall spokesman, said he was not aware of the correspondence being received. Sam An could not be reached for comment.


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