Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday implicated his cousin as being behind an attempt to sell land in Svay Rieng province that was set aside by the government in 2009 to provide hundreds of land titles to villagers on a social land concession.
Speaking at a ceremony in Romeas Hek district where he handed out 510 land titles to 298 families, Mr. Hun Sen said that authorities should investigate why just 36 families in the area had been provided with land titles despite an order from the Ministry of Land Management to convert the land into a social land concession.
“I clarify and announce that my cousin [is involved], because I privatized this land as a concession for villagers in Svay Rieng province in 2009. But up to 2012, no land distribution has been handed out,” the prime minister said in a speech that lasted more than two hours.
“I don’t expect it to work like that because my cousin is a middleman. My cousin, whose name is A Khlaing…and whose real name is Dy Khlaing, has taken some of the land to sell,” he said.
Mr. Hun Sen did not say what would happen to his cousin, and Mr. Khlaing could not be contacted for comment.
Since May, Mr. Hun Sen has been undergoing a nationwide project to provide thousands of villagers embroiled in land disputes on state land and economic land concessions with land titles.
Results from the commune elections in June showed that the opposition parties had done better against the ruling CPP in areas where land evictions were an issue. The next national election will take place in July 2013.
Also during his speech, Mr. Hun Sen said that National Police Brigadier General Ros Sithan had been arrested for his role in trying to sell some of the land in the area demarcated as a social land concession in Svay Rieng.
“That one-star police general cheated money out of others. So conduct further investigation into A Khlaing and the one-star police general. The land I privatized for the people has not been demarcated. They try to sell instead,” he said.
Svay Rieng provincial police chief Prach Rim said the court charged Brig. Gen. Sithan, an official from the Ministry of Interior’s logistics department, and two accomplices with forging a government land concession document and cheating a local businesswoman out of $100,000.
As part of the government’s policy to hand out land titles, Mr. Hun Sen also announced that 1,500 hectares of land has been removed from an economic land concession belonging to the local agriculture tycoon An Marady and would be redistributed to local villagers.