Violent Clash Erupts During Tour-Boat Community Vote

One man received a serious stab wound and six other people were injured Saturday when a violent clash erupted between two groups vying to operate tour boats on the Tonle Sap lake in Siem Reap province, officials said Sunday.

The brawl erupted after about 600 residents of Prasat Bakorng district’s Kompong Phluk commune met on Saturday to vote for a president that would run a newly formed association of tour boat operators in the area, according to district police chief Min Chantha.

The boats ferry tourists to and from the commune’s Kompong Phluk flooded forest.

Mr. Chantha said that shortly after Kompong Phluk residents came together to cast their votes, about 250 people from nearby Chung Khnies commune appeared and began protesting the formation of the association.

“Our authorities tried to compromise, but they did not listen to us and it led to a clash, causing seven people to get injured,” he said.

According to Mr. Chantha, one man was in serious condition at the provincial referral hospital Sunday with a stab wound to the stomach. Another man received a superficial slash to the abdomen, while the other five people suffered only minor injuries, he added.

“We know who is behind this and now we are investigating to find more evidence and take action according to the law,” he said, declining to elaborate.

In April, under orders from Prime Minister Hun Sun, Sou Ching Port Investment Co. Ltd. and Sea Pac Investment Co. Ltd., which had been collecting commissions from tour boat operators and building tourist infrastructure in Kompong Phluk commune, were closed down due to mismanagement.

Commune chief Neung Ny on Sunday said he believed the 250 people from Chung Khnies commune—who claimed to be protesting because they feared an association would elbow out tour boat operators from their commune—acted on orders from the Sou Ching company.

“The Sou Ching company incited those people to come and stop us from holding an election,” Mr. Ny said.

sony@cambodiadaily.com

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