Governor Sees Land-Grab Near Pol Pot Grave

Oddar Meanchey province governor on Thursday accused Anlong Veng district officials of grabbing land near Pol Pot’s grave and the house of former Khmer Rouge senior military commander Ta Mok.

Governor Lay Virak said officials, whom he declined to name, had grabbed land close to the former residence and the grave of the Khmer Rouge leader, which sits at the base of the Dangrek Mountain, and had cleared forest on the mountainside to support their claim.

“Land near Pol Pot’s grave and Ta Mok’s house is not being grabbed by ordinary people. I’ve heard district officials are involv­ed, and they are dividing it in parts to sell it secretly,” Governor Lay Virak said in a telephone interview. He said he was investigating to determine how much land had been seized.

Other district and provincial officials, however, flatly denied their superior’s accusations. “I am not aware of any land grabbing in my area,” said Anlong Veng district governor Yim Sann. He said Anlong Veng officials have taken care to protect the area, which attracts  tourists. “Anyone who creates this rumor wants to break the relationship between locals and the local authorities,” he said.

Oddar Meanchey Deputy Provincial Governor Mey Saman said no one would dare grab the land, as it was a well-known historical site. “If there was land grabbing, other people would not dare to buy or sell the land,” he said.

Provincial land management Director Lai Chhorn also refuted Lay Virak’s claims. “Neither I, nor the district’s land management department has ever issued any land title for selling or buying land near Ta Mok’s house or Pol Pot’s grave,” he  said.

In a speech Oct 18, Prime Minister Hun Sen vowed to crack down on land grabbing by the rich and powerful, and urged authorities to report cases to him.


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