Families Protest over Land Dispute

Source: Khmer ThimesKH | Wed, 14 September 2016, by Pech Sotheary

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Villagers from Kandal province who have had a land dispute with businesswoman Lim Kea came to seek help from the Minister of Land Management in Phnom Penh yesterday. Supplied

Sixty-five people representing 71 families in Chrey Lors and Chhveang communes in Kandal province’s Ponhea Leu district protested at the Ministry of Land Management yesterday and requested the ministry’s intervention and resolution of a nearly 10-year-old land dispute with the SKD company.

One of the representatives, Kuy Chanthorn, said the land dispute over 155 hectares with SKD owner Lim Kea had been ongoing since 2006 when citizens asked provincial authorities to help many times, but no results were ever produced.

He said the slow response combined with provincial authorities allowing Ms. Kea to bury dead bodies on the disputed land made the people worry about losing their land and so they asked the Land Management Ministry for land titles.

“We want the ministry to issue land titles because the provincial authorities didn’t take the dispute with Ms. Lim Kea into consideration. They don’t help and make promises without results,” he said.

“Recently, we saw them put poles to demarcate, but we don’t know how much land they’ve decided to give each party.”

The petition was received by Chan Ra, the Land Management Ministry official in charge of taking complaints, who pledged to submit it to ministry leaders for review.

According to the protesters, 134 families owned the disputed land in 1982. In 1996, some citizens sold their land, but others refused to sell to SKD. In 2006, the company took bulldozers to clear the land which caused the dispute.

Ms. Kea could not be reached for comment yesterday.

However, Ms. Kea confirmed in a press conference she bought the land from citizens in 1996 and 1997 with a valid trading permit.

“I did not grab the citizens’ land. I bought the land for $400 per hectare from them,” she said.

Adhoc provincial coordinator Men Makara urged authorities to expedite a resolution to the land dispute with transparency and fairness to improve the livelihoods of the citizens and to ensure them land ownership.

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