Minister of Interior Sar Kheng has revealed a plan to create new villages in five provinces which have available land and sparse populations.
Addressing an inauguration ceremony for the new Preah Vihear provincial governor via video link on August 15, Sar Kheng said the new villages would be in Preah Vihear and neighbouring Stung Treng, Kratie, Ratanakkiri and Mondulkiri provinces, as they have vacant land and low populations.
“People will be able to settle down there legally without having to rob one another of property or occupy state land. Therefore, we should create villages for them. It may be that people from very remote areas would prefer to live in one of the new villages, which will have better access to public services,” he added.
In Stung Treng province, deputy director of administration Men Kung told The Post on August 15 that the conditions for establishing new villages in the province focused on demographic and geographical factors.
He said the province had not added any villages recently, but the administration had already submitted proposals to the interior ministry.
“We have proposed several locations, and are just waiting on the ministry’s decision on which commune should be used,” he said.
Pen Linath, deputy governor of Kratie province, told The Post on August 15 that the provincial administration had requested permission to establish more than 30 new villages after studying the characteristics of each area and evaluating whether local infrastructure would be suitable.
“We have seen a lot of people moving into the province, and we have determined that the locations are entirely appropriate for establishing new villages,” he said.
According to Linath, much of the populace lives far from towns so it is difficult to make sure they can access public services. The creation of new villages would make this much simpler, he said. In addition, the province established a new commune before the June 5 commune council elections, after verifying that the population had grown enough.
San Chey, executive director of the NGO Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, told The Post on August 15 that he had no objections to the plan, but hoped the new villages would be well developed as soon as they were established.