Source: Khmer Times
The government has decided to confiscate nearly 3,000 hectares of land in Kandal province’s Kien Svay and Saang districts from CPP member Lork Hour after investigating a litany of lawsuits filed by local residents against the parliamentarian.
According to a letter from the Council of Ministers’ secretary of state Hing Thoraxy to Land Managment Minister Chea Sophara on Saturday, the government ruled that Mr. Hour had in fact stolen land from local residents and decided to take back 2,997.92 hectares from his plot.
The land will be given to those in the area who had their land taken from them by Mr. Hour and Mr. Sophara said the ministry working group centered on Mr. Hour’s land disputes will go to the area on Monday, survey the land and collect data to register the original owners with land titles.
“The land taken from the people must be distributed back to them in the geographical area of Kien Svay district and Saang district in Kandal province,” the letter said.
Mr. Hour, who represents Battambang province in the National Assembly, was put on a newly-created “blacklist” last May, barring him from registering or transferring land due to the five land disputes he is involved in.
Mr. Hour was the first and only addition to the list, which was created to keep track of companies and people who have a history of contentious or corrupt land business dealings.
In the same letter to Mr. Sophara, Mr. Hour was ordered to “personally” solve a land dispute with one family because he resold their part of the confiscated 2,997.92 hectares to another buyer.
Mr. Sophara ordered provincial governor Mao Phirun and authorities in Kandal to spread the announcement to the land dispute victims and work with the ministry to survey the land.
Mr. Phirun has tried for almost a year to resolve the disputes his citizens have with Mr. Hour, going so far as to issue an edict last May freezing any of the CPP member’s land involved in disputes.
A Land Management Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity said Mr. Hour’s land disputes started in 2005 and had now affected 1,269 families in 15 villages within four communes in Kandal province.
“The ministry received 46 complaints from people,” he said.
Mr. Hour, who is also a three-star general within the Interior Ministry, could not be reached for comment. But he told a local media outlet that he never grabbed anyone’s land and never had a dispute with anyone.
He did, however, acknowledge a 600 hectare land dispute with a broker in Kandal province.
Men Makara, coordinator for rights group Adhoc in Kandal provincs, said the action was a positive development for people who have been struggling with housing insecurity since their land was taken by Mr. Hour.
“We appreciate this as well as the support and care of the government to solve the concerns of the people who made a request for a solution,” he said.
“We hope the government will continue to do things like this to encourage our people to actively respect the law as well as help them receive the ownership that they should expect to continue their livelihoods.”