PM’s Cabinet Seeks Inquiry in Kampot Salt Fields Dispute

Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cabinet chief last week asked Minister of Land Management Im Chhun Lim to investigate the ownership of 29 hectares of disputed salt-production land in Kampot province.

According to a copy of the Feb 12 letter signed by Cabinet chief Ho Sithy, Pheng Thak, 69, who claims he has owned a salt production farm in Kampot province’s Toek Chhou district since 1989, has asked King Norodom Sihamoni to ask the Ministry of Land Management to investigate the legality of a land title he claims was illegally issued to claim his land.

“His majesty the King, based on a request from Kao Soupha, the lawyer representing Pheng Thak, a salt farmer since 1989… requests for Samdech Techo Prime Minister Hun Sen to intervene with the Interior Ministry and Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction as well as other relevant ministries to conduct an investigation over the title of ownership,” Mr Sithy said in his letter.

The King on Feb 10 wrote and forwarded the complaint and documents submitted by Mr Soupha to the premier for investigation of the matter.

Land Management Minister Im Chhun Lim could not be reached yesterday. Lay Phallim, director of administration at the Ministry of Land Management, said he was unsure whether the letter had arrived at the ministry.

Shortly after the withdrawal of Vietnamese troops from Cambodia in 1989, the government gave Mr Thak and his wife, Kim Chheng, the land title to a salt producing farm that had been managed by Vietnamese producers.

The couple has worked on the farm ever since, but when they tried to sell part of their land in August 2008, they found that a local businessman was claiming ownership with his own documents.

In November 2008, Mr Thak then learned that he was being sued in the provincial court by the prominent local businessman Bun Baraing who accused him of trying to steal the salt farm by attempting to sell it to another party.


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