Officials hunt brokers inciting Kratie landgrab

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Officials are hunting brokers who have allegedly mobilised locals to encroach on land in Sambor district’s Kampong Cham commune. Interior Ministry

Kratie provincial deputy governor Kong Kimny is urging officials to identify brokers who have allegedly mobilised locals to encroach on land belonging to the CHPB Development Co Ltd in Sambor district’s Kampong Cham commune.

The call came after the company sought intervention.

Kimny told The Post on October 25 that some state land has also been grabbed for private ownership.

He said the brokers had told people the government would allocate land to those who came to live on it, prompting them to build sheds and cottages on the land to mark their territory.

He said they had also planted banana, coconut and mango trees and other crops on the land.

“I don’t remember the number of [people] who have encroached on the land. But I urge them to respect the law. If they lack land they should apply for [social] land concessions in person. We will consider granting land to them as we have done before. We have allocated land to several poor families already,” he said.

Kampong Cham commune chief Chhit Norn said on October 25 he had already received instructions from the higher-ups to inform people about the law. He said some of them are migrants who believed the broker.

“The ringleaders incited the people secretly and galvanised them to grab the company’s land. Later, they asked local officials to recognise land occupation rights for them,” he said.

He added the people behind this are not poor and do not lack land.

“They grab state land to sell,” he said.

Norn said the company has 12,190ha for growing rubber. A large chunk of the land is being cleared.

The company’s representative, Chea Chamroeun, said on October 25 the authorities inspected the site after the firm requested relevant authorities to put an end to the encroachment.

He said police had intervened and urged local officials to spread the word that people are prohibited from clearing the land.

“We don’t use tough measures against them. We just prohibit them or inform them. We don’t use violence, but they wouldn’t listen to us. So we asked authorities to intervene in the case because a large chunk of the company’s land was grabbed for private ownership,” he said.

Provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc Thim Horn said on October 25 he had yet to study the case in depth. He urged the authorities to do so before taking action.

“I think that before introducing measures to stop them, authorities should study the cause of the case clearly to see if people are offenders who grab the company’s land or the firm is the offender who clears the people’s land,” he said.