A man was arrested Saturday after 30 pork vendors protested in Kampot province, accusing authorities of not honoring an ongoing contract for the operation of a slaughterhouse, officials said yesterday.
The vendors, who had previously sold their stakes in the slaughterhouse to businesswoman Tann Neng, claim provincial authorities sold the slaughterhouse without informing them after Ms Neng failed to pay taxes.
Lean Ti, a pork vendor, accused Ms Neng, who owned nearly 97 percent of the slaughterhouse, and provincial authorities of reneging on a contract to operate the slaughterhouse until 2023.
At about 8:30 am Saturday, police arrested Heng Bunchan, 50, a vendor representative and a minor shareholder in the slaughterhouse, accusing him of being the instigator of the protest, Mr Ti said.
“It is an abuse of the people’s rights,” Mr Ti said. “Authorities have tried to coerce him into thumbprinting a statement saying he accepted the new bidding from the other businessman.”
Another pork vendor, who declined to be named for fear of arrest, accused authorities of not making the bidding of the new contract public.
“The authorities abused the villagers. They do not respect contracts and they colluded with a shareholder to hide the bid,” she alleged.
Provincial governor Khoy Khun Hour, said Ms Neng had stopped investing in the slaughterhouse and paying taxes to the government.
“She hadn’t paid taxes to the government for seven months,” he said.
From November to December, the government solicited public bids for the slaughterhouse, seeking higher tax revenue, he said.
“We arrested Heng Bunchan because he threatened and disturbed police officials at the scene, and banned pork vendors from paying fees to the new businessman,” Mr Hour said.
In Chiva, deputy provincial police chief, said Mr Bunchan was arrested because he “disturbed police’s duty at the protest.”
Provincial prosecutor Chum Samban said the court charged Mr Bunchan on Saturday with aggravated rebelling, punishable by up to a year in jail and up to $500 in fines.