Representatives of 142 families from Pursat province’s Veal Veng district filed complaints with the provincial governor Monday seeking intervention in their land dispute with powerful timber and casino magnate Try Pheap.
Mr. Pheap’s MDS company was granted a 2,250-hectare economic land concession in Veal Veng district to build a new border crossing with Thailand and develop a rubber plantation, but villagers say the company has taken over land they have farmed for years without fair compensation.
“We have only tears to see our farmland destroyed by the company, which is backed by armed forces, and to have it replaced by a rubber plantation belonging to this rich company,” said Chum Savath, a representative for 65 of the families.
The villagers said they were petitioning the governor, Mao Thaknin, because he had only been in office for three months and might have a fresh take on the matter.
According to Mr. Savath, Mr. Thaknin told villagers that he would make a field visit to the area to acquaint himself with the dispute.
The governor could not be reached for comment, but an official in his office said the villagers’ complaint had been forwarded to relevant authorities. Mr. Pheap’s company could not be reached.