Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday inaugurated the first sugar cane processing plant to open in Cambodia since the 1970-1975 Lon Nol regime.
Speaking at the site in Koh Kong province’s Sre Ambel district’s Chi Khor Loeu commune, Mr Hun Sen recalled three such plants that used to operate during then-Prince Norodom Sihanouk’s Sangkum Reastr Niyum era in the 1960s, including one in Kompong Cham province and another in Battambang.
“If there were no coup in March 1970, by this time in Cambodia this would not be a first, we would just be expanding from that time,” he said.
The plant, owned and operated by Ly Yong Phat Group, started operating in November.
“Today we can talk about the sugar processing but it took 40 years to create this,” Mr Hun Sen added. “I’m happy even though it required a long time. But it has already started processing sugar, which is a good step for us.”
CPP Senator Ly Yong Phat said his factory, and the surrounding 1,800 hectares for growing cane, could produce 200 tons of sugar a day but was still operating with only 4,000 employees, half the workforce needed.
“We still need about 4,000 more people to work for us,” he said.
Mr Yong Phat said he plans to export his sugar to Europe but could not say when the shipments would start.
Local villagers claimed in 2006 that their land had been illegitimately taken for two concessions used in Mr Yong Phat’s sugar operations.
One villager representative said yesterday that the community still hope to meet with the premier to ask for his help in getting compensation for the loss of their land to the factory.
“The families in Chhuk, Chi Khor and Trapaing Kandorl villages want to reach Samdech to let him know about our loss,” Kong Song said. “We have not gotten any compensation yet. We want some land to earn a living.”