More than four months after first taking their complaint over a land dispute to the National Assembly’s human rights commission, 50 villagers from Kompong Chhnang province on Thursday protested in front of the assembly, calling for the commission’s head to resign for failing to resolve the dispute.
Eighty-three families have been involved in a dispute over 183 hectares of land in Kompong Tralach district’s Lor Peang village with KDC International—a firm owned by Mines and Energy Minister Suy Sem’s wife, Chea Kheng—since 2007.
Reach Seima, a representative of the families, on Thursday accused CNRP lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang, who heads the bipartisan commission, of disregarding villagers’ concerns.
“If the head of the first commission [on human rights] cannot find a resolution for people in Lor Peang, you had better resign and be replaced in your post by Samdech Hun Sen or Sam Rainsy,” Mr. Seima said.
Half an hour after their demonstration began, opposition lawmaker Chea Poch, a member of the commission, invited six representatives of the villagers to meet with Mr. Chhay Eang.
During the meeting, Mr. Chhay Eang denied ignoring the complaint but said the commission was not in a position to settle the dispute, and could only help investigate such matters or act as an arbitrator.
“I would like to clarify that the institution of the National Assembly is not a body for solving complaints for villagers, but it is the obligation of two institutions—the executive and court bodies,” he said.
The villagers agreed to break up their protest after Mr. Chhay Eang promised to arrange a meeting with KDC once the families provide him with a clear indication of the compensation they would be willing to accept from the firm.