R’kiri Rubber Trader To Sue 4 Solidarity Group Members

The head of the Ratanakkiri pro­vince rubber trader Tai Seng Co said Thursday he would lodge criminal complaints today against four men involved in a rubber shipment that was forcibly intercepted by police Wednesday.

Confronted by provincial police in Banlung district’s Kachanh commune who shot out two of their tires, solidarity group members set fire to their own truck and its 2-ton consignment of rubber rather than allow authorities to seize it.

The solidarity group chiefs—middle men who operate 34 worker cooperatives held over from the com­munist 1980s—had announced their intention to sell the rubber on the open market in Kompong Cham province, defying government ord­ers that legally require them to sell the rubber to Tai Seng.

Tai Seng Director-General Ly Hong Sin said Thursday he would bring criminal charges against Bun Tha, chief of solidarity group 23, Chhe Chan, co-chief of solidarity group 14, and two others suspected of involvement in the incident.

“I will sue them for three causes: disruption and destruction of the province’s security; destroying company property, selling it to others; and causing injury to my worker,” he said, explaining that he believed solidarity group members had attacked a Tai Seng employee in Kachanh commune’s Ta Suy Village during the confrontation.

Chhe Chan maintained Thursday that the rubber was not harvested on state-owned plantations controlled by Tai Seng.

“The resin belongs to the solidarity groups, not the Tai Seng Co,” he said. “I am so worried about the lawsuit because the authorities work for the rich so they could take some illegal action against me. I am very afraid for my safety.”

Deputy provincial police chief Hor Ang reiterated Thursday that he had seen no fighting and received no complaints from injured persons.

Asked about Chhe Chan’s claims that provincial authorities may pose a threat to his personal safety, Hor Ang said that police would only act on orders.

“We act on the governor’s order. If there is no order, we do nothing.”

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