Despite receiving threats, Sihanoukville’s Governor Ith Detola said Sunday he will implement Prime Minister Hun Sen’s order to confiscate land belonging to businessmen which has been earmarked for new port development.
Commenting on the prime minister’s April 27 order canceling claims on 22 plots of land, Ith Detola said he received a threat from one of the land owners. But Ith Detola said operations to clear the land will continue.
Hun Sen, who said the land was illegally granted by land title officials in Sihanoukville, has warned the current owners not to resist his order nullifying their claims. He added that the businessmen should consider their investment lost.
“I hope they [the owners] will walk away peacefully….The government does not want violence to occur,” said Hun Sen.
According to a study by the NGO Oxfam, 23 businessmen were granted the land in 1992 under “confusing” circumstances. The land is part of a $39 million government project to expand and renovate the port.
According to Ith Detola, the government has approved $2 million to purchase land to relocate 2,453 families living on the 50-hectare site. But the businessmen who purchased the land in 1992 will get nothing, he said.
Some families have recently moved onto the land in the hope they will receive a compensation payment, said Ith Detola. But he said only those who can prove they have lived there for a long period of time will get assistance.
No resettlement details will be given in order to prevent property speculators from profiting from the information, he said.