Kampot provincial officials will investigate the sale of land to a company owned by tycoon Teng Bunma—a transaction that has elicited a strong warning from Second Prime Minister Hun Sen.
During a speech Saturday in Kampot, Hun Sen said 120 families wrote to him on Feb 16, claiming local officials had sold 60 hectares to a Cambodian company and had pocketed the profits.
“Investment in the country does not mean that people should be forced to live in the mountains….The people must get benefits from investment,” Hun Sen said while inaugurating a mosque in Kampot province.
Kampot Governor Kun Kim Teng said Monday he will meet with Kampot district authorities to investigate.
He said, however, that he believed commune authorities were not involved in the sale to Thai Boon Roong company, which wanted to extract clay from the land.
Company officials told the governor on Sunday they had names and signatures of villagers who had sold the property for $700 per person, Kun Kim Teng said.
The governor said the villagers who sold land to Teng Bunma did not own the property but were producing salt from it. He said when the actual owners—a nearby commune—discovered the land had been sold, they complained.
In his speech Saturday, Hun Sen, who never mentioned Thai Boon Roong by name, said provincial authorities had one month to resolve the issue. He ordered money paid by the company to be given to the land’s owners or the land be returned.