Families in Dispute Want More Compensation

The majority of families in Kompong Chhnang province who accepted cash to settle their land dispute with the wife of Mines Minister Suy Sem have changed their minds and will file complaints seeking more money, a village representative said Monday.

Earlier this month, 35 families accepted compensation from businesswoman Chea Kheng after a recently created 15-member provincial committee helped them negotiate a settlement. However, now many of the 35 families are unhappy with the settlements they have received.

“Today we are preparing a complaint to file with the committee to demand more money from the company,” said Suon Nhen, 38.

She could not specify the number of families who would demand additional compensation, but said it was the majority of the 35. In addition, another 17 families involved in the dispute have been holding out for more money all along.

Ms. Nhen said the families had compared notes and realized that not all of them were being equally compensated. She said she had received $1,500 for her 3.5 hectares of land, while two families had been given $3,000 per hectare.

Kompong Tralach district governor Hul Chantho, a member of the dispute settlement committee, said the families were happy with their compensation until they were “incited” by community representative Reach Seima.

“The resolution process is at a standstill, because the 17 families repeatedly refused to accept the offer, meanwhile some families who already took the company’s offer are being incited by somebody to demand more money from the company,” he said, naming Mr. Seima as the culprit.

Mr. Seima was already summoned by the provincial court on Thursday for questioning over alleged incitement of the 17 families. Mr. Chantho said he was unsure whether authorities would attempt to bring a case against the community representative.

Mr. Seima denied that he had incited either the holdout families or the 35 others.

“Nobody is incited,” he said.

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