Around 70 Interior Ministry Border Protection Police officers have accused two of their commanders of giving away their unit’s land in Phnom Penh to relatives and non-existent “ghost officers,” leaving them without a place to live in the capital.
Chhin Chhoeung, a member of border police Battalion 310, said he and 66 other officers are protesting against Battalion Commander Tim Tum and Hong Bunsim, deputy commander in charge of logistics, who he accused of dividing the battalion’s 16-hectare plot of land among their relatives.
He said the site in 1997 became home to 222 border police officers until their deployment to Battambang province’s Samlot district on the Thai border in 2000.
Two weeks ago, officers returned to find that Tim Tum and Hong Bunsim had divided the land into small plots and given them to relatives in the battalion, he alleged.
“We have been working hard for the government. But our commanders divided the land into small pieces to share with officials who are their relatives,” he said.
Chhin Chhoeung said that the protesting officers, all with families, are refusing to return to their base in Samlot, where they live at the battalion headquarters, until their land in Phnom Penh is returned.
Tim Tum could not be reached for comment.
Hong Bunsim rejected that accusation and previous accusations that he and Tim Tum had earned $300,000 from selling off the disputed plot of Battalion 310 land.
According to Hong Bunsim, the land has been divided up and given to 36 poor police families.
The 67 protesting officers claiming rights to the land were not married and didn’t have children when they were first billeted there in 1997, Hong Bunsim claimed.
“The 36 families received the land because it was found that they and their wives and children had spent many years living on the disputed land while the 67 border police officers did not have wives or children living with them in 1997,” he said.
Sim Sovannay, director of the Interior Ministry’s Inspection Department, said that his office would investigate the case and that he was unaware of land being given to the 36 police families.