Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered high-profile property developer 7NG in April to pay compensation to villagers in Kandal province who were involved in a land dispute with the company.
Hun Sen also ordered a Chinese-owned company, Singdia, which was also involved in a Kandal province land dispute, to cease all operations.
According to documents obtained Tuesday, Hun Sen on April 25 ordered 7NG to compensate the villagers in response to a report from Dol Koeun, Interior Ministry general-director of logistics.
Dated April 24, Dol Koeun’s report accuses 7NG of encroaching on 10 hectares of villagers’ land in Khsach Kandal district’s Sanlong commune, removing tons of soil and leaving the land unusable.
“7NG must compensate,” Hun Sen wrote in the margins of the report.
Dol Koeun could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
The 7NG company is best known for its involvement in a long-running land dispute at Dey Krahorm village in Phnom Penh’s Tonle Bassac commune.
Srey Sothea, 7NG chairman, said on Wednesday that his company had already paid compensation to the villagers, though he would not say how much or how many villagers were paid. Srey Sothea also said his firm had already sold the land in question.
Kandal Provincial Governor Chhun Sirun said he was too busy to speak with a reporter Wednesday.
However, Sanlong commune councilor Ying Yong said Wednesday that the company had compensated some individuals, but there are 300 people still awaiting payment. He added that land nearby had recently sold for $100,000 a hectare, and the villagers are entitled to a similar payment from 7NG.
“[The company] has not refunded money for about 300 people,” Ying Yong said.
“The company has requested a delay. The company has delayed again and again,” he added.
Dol Koeun’s report also accused firm Singdia of creating barriers around 482 hectares of land in Lvea Em district’s Sarikakeo commune that caused flooding of the land and blocked access by villagers.
About 290 families had requested the barriers be removed so that they could farm and live on the land, which they claimed to own.
The report also suggested that by returning the villagers’ land, it would reduce anger in rural areas and attract voters to the CPP.
Representatives from Singdia could not be reached for comment.