R’kiri Gov Warns Rubber Groups Not To Defy Law

Ratanakkiri rubber producers who defy the law and sell their resin on the open market will be arrested, Provincial Governor Muong Poy has warned.

A representative of the province’s 34 so-called “solidarity groups” announced Sunday that they would take their harvest to Kompong Cham province on Wednesday where it can be sold for 9,500 riel per kilogram.

The groups, vestiges of the worker cooperatives that harvested rubber in the province in the communist 1980s, are legally bound to sell their resin to the Tai Seng Rubber Company, which buys the resin produced on 2,300 hectares of plantations for only 4,800 riel per kilogram.

In a notice received Monday, Muong Poy said those who circumvent this arrangement will be punished.

“I am not granting permission,” he said in an Oct 10 message written on the margins of a copy of an announcement of the plan to sell the resin in Kompong Cham. “If you breach the law, authorities will arrest you and you will have to sell the rubber to the company.”

Reached by telephone, Muong Poy confirmed that the signature and stamp on the notice were his but he declined to comment further.

Chhe Chan, a representative of the 34 solidarity groups, said Monday that the governor’s warning had not dissuaded them from their plan.

“We must sell our rubber to the free market. This is our product. We’re not stealing from anybody,” he said.

Tai Seng Director-General Ly Hong Sin said his company had already made plans with local authorities to prevent the solidarity groups from transporting their resin out of Ratanakkiri.
“I have informed the police to arrest them,” he said.

Pen Bonnar, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said Monday that the solidarity groups’ plan to sell their rubber on the open market could deprive the government of tax revenues.
The groups no longer operate as collectives and were in fact dissolved by the Agriculture Ministry in March of last year, he added.

“The solidarity groups have exploited their workers and paid them low prices. They are businesses who bought the plantations from many sellers,” he said.

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