Nearly 100 villagers demonstrated at Preah Sihanouk province’s Kang Keng airport in Prey Nop district on Tuesday to protest against the government’s filling in of a villager’s rice field in order to expand the airport, villagers and a rights group said.
Seng Meng, the chief of the Kang Keng community, said Wednesday by telephone that the villagers were concerned when they heard that a government contractor was filling the paddy field in. She said that the company has already filled about half a hectare of the land without compensating the owner.
“We have joined together to help her family,” Ms Meng said. “We are concerned that if they fill one family’s land without providing compensation, they will do it to our land next time.”
Provincial Governor Sboang Sarath said by telephone that the filling of the land was a small problem—so small, in fact, that he had already solved it by arranging for compensation to be provided to her family.
Chan Chamroeun, a provincial investigator for local rights group Adhoc, confirmed by telephone that the provincial authority had solved the problem by compensating the owner in the form of $30,000 for 1.5 hectares of her land.
Still, Mr Chamroeun said, villagers were right to be concerned since their rice fields were being filled before the government had properly compensated them.
“When the items are in the trader’s hand and the owner of the item doesn’t have the money yet, it is hard to talk about the price,” he said, invoking a Khmer proverb.