Kampong Speu disputants ‘pressured’ to take sugar firm deal

Source: The Phnom Penh Post / Fri, 3 June 2016 by

people_in_a_land_dispute_with_phnom_penh_sugar_in_kampong_speu_protest_at_anz_phnom_penh_16_12_2014_pha_lina_1

People involved in a land dispute with Phnom Penh Sugar in Kampong Speu protest at ANZ in Phnom Penh in 2014. Pha Lina

Despite earlier statements by company representatives that $500 compensation packages being offered to land disputants at Ly Yong Phat’s Kampong Speu economic land concession (ELC) were negotiable, attendees of a meeting between company representatives and residents yesterday said they felt pressured to take the offer.

The ruling party senator was granted the ELC in 2010, and since then, his Phnom Penh Sugar Company has been locked in a bitter dispute with residents. The impasse appeared to have been broken two weeks ago when more than 200 families accepted a $500 compensation package.

Equitable Cambodia director Eang Vuthy decried the compensation offers last Friday as “inadequate” and said the NGO believed the conditions under which it was accepted “have not been free and fair”.

While company spokesman Sim Sitha has insisted that residents were free to negotiate higher compensation packages, two residents of Oral district’s Trapaing Chor commune said they felt an offer made yesterday would be the last.

Noun Sok, 67, rejected the $500 offer. “[I] feared they won’t talk to us about compensation again when I refused to take money from them,” she said.

“The company said if we did not accept the money there would be no other chance,” said another resident who accepted the $500.

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