Chinese Rubber Firm Registered Under False Address in Capital

The owner of a painter’s workshop in Phnom Penh’s O’Russei dis­trict said Thursday that it was a mys­tery to him how a Chinese rub­ber company seeking a massive land concession had chosen his ad­dress to register as its office with the Ministry of Commerce.

“Why do they know our ad­dress?” said Tim Thorn, 47, who said he has lived and worked with his family at 198E, Street 217, since 1992 and had never heard of Sui­gang Investment Development Co Ltd. China’s official news agency Xin­hua announced on March 31 that Sui­gang had signed a contract with China’s largest rubber producer, Hai­­nan Natural Rubber In­dus­try Group Corp, to plant rubber on near­ly 63,000 hectares in Cam­bodia.

In November a team of Forestry Administration and Agriculture Min­istry officials surveyed land covering 66,000 hectares in Preah Vi­hear province, which was re­quest­­ed by Suigang, and met with company and provincial officials in order to facilitate the deal.

However, Cambodian government officials have said this week that size of the area far exceeds legal limits. Provincial and Agri­culture Ministry officials also de­nied that the concession will be larger than the maximum 10,000 hectares.

Information obtained from the Commerce Ministry on Thursday stated that Suigang’s office has been located at Tim Thorn’s ad­dress since April 2005 and is worth $4.8 million, with 70 percent of shares owned by Chinese national Zhang Wen­jun and 30 percent by Cambo­dian Sim Sonthim.

Officials at the Commerce and Agriculture Ministries as well as the Council for the Development of Cambodia said that they did not have a telephone number for Sui­gang. Moeung Socheat, an officer with local rights group Adhoc in Preah Vihear, said a large share of the province’s 144,000 population live in the concession’s five districts: Tbeng Meanchey, Chey Sen, Chhep, Rovieng and Sang­kom Thmei.

Most collect tree resin, honey and timber to subsist, he added.



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