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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Chinese Koh Kong development under construction

US$5 billion Chinese tourism development project in Koh Kong is under construction as of last month. The Chinese Union Development Group Co is currently constructing a port and roads, as well as preparing the infrastructure to build a residential and an office building in Kiri Sakr district.

The project covers 36,000 hectares of land in Botum Sakor and Kiri Sakor districts, and will consist of five developments, including: airport, a port, golf course, an eco-tourism site and a large commercial area with residential living, hotels, restaurants and retail stores.

The development is expected to provide more jobs for locals as well as boosting the provincial economy.

The development has affected seven villages with 600 families. Although the company is close to resolving compensation disputes, there are still over 20 families who are asking for higher compensation costs based on market prices. The dispute will soon to be resolved according to Lao Tip Seiha, a director at the Ministry of Land Management.

The development is expected to be completed in less than 25 years.

561 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Villagers halt land clearing
Wednesday, 02 March 2011 15:01 Tep Nimol

About 34 villagers from Koh Kong’s Kiri Sakor district staged a non-violent protest against a Chinese development firm that attempted to clear villagers’ land this week without providing any compensation, according to district Governor Chheng Chhek.

China’s state-owned Union Development Group planned to develop 36,000 hectares of land and invest about US$3.8 billion in an ecotourism development project, which could affect more than 1,000 families in Botum Sakor and Kiri Sakor districts.

Chheng Chhek said the firm used excavators to clear villagers’ farmland beginning on Sunday and that he asked the provincial governor to find a resolution because the villagers were living there legally and were authorised by local officials.

“They could not find a resolution so they stopped clearing land [yesterday] for negotiations with the firm,” Chheng Chhek said.

“We will try to find a resolution for both parties as soon as possible,” he said, adding that if the firm wanted to buy villagers’ land they should do so according to market price.

Nin Sen, 39, a villager in Prek Khsach commune within Kiri Sakor district, said the firm hired seven workers, two armed soldiers and three excavators to clear the villagers’ farmland to dig a channel about five metres wide and seven kilometres long around the villagers’ land.

“Thirty-four villagers gathered yesterday to prevent the firm from continuing to clear the farmland, but we had no violence,” she said.

Preap Narin, 52, another villager, said more than 100 families in the commune had agreed to sell their land to the firm for about $200 to $300 per hectare.

He added, however, that 34 families have refused to sell.

“It is very unjust for us,”Preap Narin said. “We have been living here over 30 years and we have an official letter recognised by the authorities, but the government denied our legal right to live here and also granted an economic land concession on our land to a private firm for 99 years,” he said.

China’s state-owned Union Development Group could not be reach for comment yesterday.


1,170 Posts
$5 billion project

In Cambodia, Koh Kong Emerges as an Eco-Tourism Destination Lianne Milton for The New York Times
In Koh Kong province in Cambodia, new eco-friendly resorts are drawing both backpackers and more luxury-oriented travelers. Among them is 4 Rivers Floating Lodge, on the Tatai River.
Published: March 4, 2011
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LinkedinDiggMixxMySpacePermalink. INSIDE a breezy bamboo structure in Chi Phat, a village in the remote province of Koh Kong, near the Thai border in southwestern Cambodia, a dozen or so foreigners sat down to a communal dinner of chicken curry and Angkor Beer. Cinnamon-hued cattle and elderly women wearing ikat sarongs and checkered scarves ambled along the dusty road outside.

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Map Koh Kong, Cambodia.Eating by the light given off by fishing cages doubling as lamps, the group recounted the day’s activities: bird-watching at sunrise, mountain biking across rocky streams, swimming in waterfalls. And fending off rain forest leeches.

“The bite is no worse than a large mosquito’s,” said David Lambert, a strapping Englishman.

Katrin van Camp, from Belgium, had returned from a guided overnight jungle trek, then spent the afternoon in a hammock and playing with local children eager to improve their English. “When I go home, this is the Cambodia I’m going to remember,” she said.

For decades, Koh Kong villages like Chi Phat had little contact with the outside world. Marginalized by a lack of infrastructure, a Khmer Rouge presence that endured into the late 1990s, and some of Southeast Asia’s wildest, least-explored terrain, the region remained virtually forbidden to outsiders.

But new roads now penetrate the jungle and scale the hills; new bridges traverse the area’s numerous rivers. And as Cambodia has achieved a level of political stability, a small but diverse array of Western-run accommodations — including the makeshift restaurant in Chi Phat, part of a project called Community-Based Eco-tourism — has opened in the last few years, catering to both backpackers and the well-heeled.

Thanks to this new accessibility, travelers are now discovering the area’s awe-inspiring biodiversity, which includes one of Southeast Asia’s largest tracts of virgin rain forest; some 60 threatened species, including the endangered Asian elephants, tigers, Siamese crocodiles and pileated gibbons; and a virtually untouched 12-island archipelago in the Gulf of Thailand, with sand beaches and crystal-clear aquamarine waters.

The Koh Kong region spans 4,300 square miles, about the size of the Everglades National Park. But the charms of Cambodian rural life are readily apparent in Chi Phat, home to about 2,500 people. The village sits at the foot of the Southern Cardamom Mountains, about 10 miles inland, up the mangrove- and bamboo-lined Preak Piphot River. Wooden houses on stilts, painted mint green and baby blue and shaded by towering palms, line the main dirt road. Children wearing navy blue and white uniforms and broad smiles cycle to school on adult-size bikes, passing by toothpick-legged white egrets hanging out on the backs of water buffalo in neon green rice fields.

It wasn’t always this peaceful. Chi Phat was once infamous for its abundant poachers, loggers and slash-and-burn farmers, who were forced to turn to illegal practices to make a living. That began to change in 2007, when the conservation group Wildlife Alliance started to work with the community on a project that would turn hunters — who knew the forest’s hidden gems better than anyone — into tour guides, and local families into guesthouse owners.

“Chi Phat was home to the most destructive inhabitants in the whole of Koh Kong province,” said John Maloy, a spokesman for Wildlife Alliance. “By participating in the eco-tourism project, community members would not only receive income that would greatly improve their situation, they would be provided with incentives to protect the forest rather than exploit it in an unsustainable manner.”

So far, the initiatives seem to be working. Last year, Chi Phat welcomed 1,228 visitors, according to the alliance, an increase of nearly 50 percent from 2009. Residents are receiving much-needed income that allows them to reside year-round in the village, allowing their children to go to school and get to health care. (When locals relied on logging and hunting, they had to spend long stretches in the forest.)

Travelers, meanwhile, can leave the pressures of the developed world behind. Days begin with the rooster’s crow and end when the village’s generator goes silent at midnight. On trips organized by the Community-Based Eco-tourism office, visitors can trek through fields filled with canary yellow and electric blue butterflies to reach bat caves hidden behind curved waterfalls, or plant a tree at a reforestation nursery. Recent visitors reportedly caught a glimpse of a few of the area’s roughly 175 endangered elephants.

Janet Newman, originally from England, fell for Koh Kong while documenting the province’s wildlife in 2005. Within three years, she had decided to stay for good, and opened the eco-friendly Rainbow Lodge.

“I looked at many parts of the country but always had a big smile on my face when I went to Koh Kong,” Ms. Newman said. “It was just the sheer unspoiled beauty of the area.”

The lodge, on 12 acres along the Tatai River about 50 miles northwest of Chi Phat, is thick with palms and brightly colored flowering bushes. The seven wooden thatched-roof bungalows have hammock-strung terraces that overlook the trees.

Guests at the lodge — who recently ranged from a young Australian family of five to adventure-ready couples from Europe — can kayak to the nearby Tatai waterfall, a wide expanse that creates small bathing pools and pummeling massage spots between black rocks; head into the jungle on guided hikes, spotting and identifying birds and insects as they go; or just lounge in the wicker sofas in the open-air restaurant, whose thatched roof features a nightly display by limb-size polka-dotted geckos.

If you are lucky, the spot might just live up to its name: three rainbows streaked the sky during a November visit.

Ms. Newman and her boyfriend and co-manager, Gee Cartier, go to great lengths to minimize the property’s environmental impact, sourcing about 95 percent of Rainbow Lodge’s power from solar panels and supporting Cambodian-made products like biodegradable handmade soaps and locally harvested honey.

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Map Koh Kong, Cambodia.Cozy as Rainbow might be, some travelers may prefer the creature comforts available at 4 Rivers Floating Lodge, which opened in November 2009 three miles downstream on a bend in the river. Bringing luxury to the untamed wilderness is the focus here, with 12 rooms housed in elaborately built tents that float on interconnected decks made of recycled wood.

With perks like king beds, air-conditioning, hot water and three-course dinners, 4 Rivers caters to European honeymooners and expatriates in Phnom Penh seeking a refuge from the city.

But just as eco-tourism is taking off, businesses may soon have to deal with major threats from a different sort of development. Like much of Cambodia, Koh Kong faces serious challenges as the government sells off land, including parcels of national parks, to private developers. Several Chinese-built dams have been proposed or are under construction along Koh Kong’s rivers. And given the recent government approval to build a titanium mine nearby, Chi Phat itself faces the possible loss of 11,000 acres of rain forest and and additional challenges to its eco-tourism efforts.

Last year, ground was broken on a $5 billion, 25-year Chinese-financed tourism project that includes an airport, a sea port, a golf course and a large commercial development along a stretch of Koh Kong’s southern coast, now accessible only by boat. Although the roads and airport might be good for the eco-tourism efforts, the additional developments might not.
The archipelago consists of a dozen islands with few inhabitants, aside from the main fishing island of Koh Sdach. A few places to stay already operate on the islands. December 2009 saw the opening of hippie-friendly Nomads Land on Koh Totang, a rugged island, and Belinda Beach Resort, opened in October on Koh Sdach, which easily qualifies as Koh Kong’s fanciest digs, with stone bungalows surrounded by bougainvilleas and plumeria trees, an infinity pool and a terrace.

As in Chi Phat, positive, symbiotic relationships between businesses and residents are forming on the islands — which may be a bulwark against overdevelopment. Nomads and Belinda Beach employ islanders at their properties; tourists hire fishermen, intimately familiar with the area’s secret beaches and best swimming spots, as day-trip guides.

“We felt such positive energy from the locals when we arrived,” said Benoit Trigaux, the owner of Belinda Beach. “Everything you can dream of is here.”


Koh Kong province is roughly a five-hour drive from Phnom Penh. Public buses ($10) leave from Phnom Penh throughout the day, but hiring a private car ($70 each way; arrange through your hotel) will save time. (U.S. dollars are widely accepted in Cambodia.)

Koh Sdach is best reached by a two-hour ferry ($25) from Sihanoukville that runs every other day (returning the next day); a Chinese-built road is expected to be finished this year.


There are currently 11 guesthouses and 8 homestays in Chi Phat (855-92-720-925; Accommodations are simple: foam mattress, mosquito net, shared toilets. You might have a farm animal or two under your room. Take it all in stride. Daily rates are $3 to $5 a person.

The seven bungalows at family-friendly Rainbow Lodge (855-99-744-321; feature log-frame beds, a silk bedside lamp, fans and private balconies. Doubles, including all meals, are $65.

Rooms at the 4 Rivers Floating Lodge (Tatai River; 855-97-64-34-032; are spacious and furnished with beds and settees made of woven water hyacinth; the private verandas are lovely. Doubles, $139.

At Nomads Land (Koh Totang; 855-11-91-61-71;, you can stay in anything from a single room made of thatched bamboo to a two-story bungalow with stunning ocean views. There are plans to introduce yoga and meditation retreats. From $8 per person.

Belinda Beach Resort (Koh Sdach; 855-17-517-517; is the first luxury hotel to come to the Koh Kong coast. Doubles, $120.


Day treks from Chi Phat start at $8, overnight trips into the jungle from $20. At Rainbow Lodge, kayaks are free; full-day treks start at $15.

You can charter a basic fisherman’s boat at Koh Sdach for $25 for a long half-day; more comfortable is a day trip snorkeling and kayaking with Koh Kong Divers (855-17-502-784;, which is $40 a person. Dives from $55.

561 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Koh Kong banks on tourism

Wednesday, 23 March 2011 15:01
Soeun Say and Jeremy Mullins

Koh Kong province
Koh Kong may be without the spectacular temples or much-improved tourist infrastructure of other areas of Cambodia, but officials say they are counting on tourism to develop the southwestern province.

Tourists are expected to increasingly taking advantage of the eco-tourism opportunities the province’s natural beauty provides, while officials are also anticipating a US$5 billion large-scale Chinese tourism development now under way, according to Koh Kong Deputy Governor Sun Dara.

However, visitors to Koh Kong – which shares a border and economic ties to Thailand – have dwindled in recent months, with officials blaming reasons such as violent clashes between Thailand and Cambodia in Preah Vihear province last month.

Koh Kong Tourism Department statistics provided to The Post show 2,076 tourists – including 97 foreigners – stayed in the province’s hotels and guesthouses in February 2011.

In the same month last year, the province saw 10,619 tourists, including 852 foreigners – representing an 80.4 percent year on year decrease, the statistics show.

One notable decline was in the number of Thais visiting the Cambodian province.

Seven Thai tourists stayed in Koh Kong province in February 2011, from 141 Thai visitors in the same month in 2010, according to statistics from the Koh Kong Tourism Department.

“It’s been so quiet since the border clash,” said Kong Ratana, Deputy Chief of Cambodian Immigration Police at the Cham Yeam crossing between Koh Kong and Thailand’s Trat province.

“We’re seeing only 30 to 40 foreign tourists entering Cambodia each day,” he said. “It’s due to safety concerns set off by all the political tension – but it has not affected trade between the two countries.”

Some government officials said unofficial fees collected at the border were also keeping tourists away from the province’s seven hotels and 19 guesthouses.

Koh Kong Tourism Department Director Bun Beav said reducing fees and hassles at the border would increase the number of tourists.

Eco-tourism also offers strong potential to further local tourism, he said, because it plays to the province’s strengths – its natural beauty.

“I am hopeful tourists will increase again. The province has a lot of areas tourists can visit,” he said.

Janet Newman, owner of Koh Kong province’s Rainbow Lodge, which lies in a rural setting near Tatai village, agreed it was a hassle crossing the border, with officials routinely demanding 1,200 baht (US$39.68) for a tourist visa, when the official price was $20.

“It’s a big problem,” she said. “The first experience [for tourists] in Cambodia is crossing that border.”

She said the province was doing well in promoting eco-tourism and was seeing an increase particularly of Cambodian tourists to the area, but added the province ought to take a more sustainable approach to development to ensure the long-term viability of eco-tourism.

“There are a lot of things being allowed to be done that are very anti-ecotourism,” she said.

Large sand dredging operations on provincial rivers were of major concern to Rainbow Lodge, causing pollution and dirtying the river, she said, though added Ministry of the Environment had to some extent helped mitigate the concerns over noise pollution.

Tourism – particularly eco-tourism – is expected to play a central role in Koh Kong’s development, along with sectors such as mining and energy.

Work on the $540 million, 246-megawatt Stung Tatai hydroelectric dam began in January.

At the groundbreaking, Prime Minister Hun Sen described Koh Kong as “a battery province” that could help the Kingdom to satisfy its rising energy needs.

Some officials have downplayed any potential conflict between eco-tourism and environmentally damaging development. Sun Dara claimed the province’s eco-tourism plans had not been affected by wider economic development, which was necessary to improve the lives of its residents.

“Most Koh Kong residents are fishermen, while a few sell goods at the market,” he said.

Some local hoteliers are also hopeful of the future.

Chim Sokheng, administration officer at Koh Kong City hotel, said tourist arrivals had been on the upswing until the February clashes.

While Deputy Governor Sun Dara said there were large tourism developments underway in the province, in addition to eco-tourism.

Chinese firm Union Development Group is building an announced $5 billion tourism development in the province’s Botum Sakor and Kiri Sakor districts.

The project is slated to eventually cover 36,000 hectares, and consist of five separate developments including an airport, a port, a golf course, and a large commercial area, according to Sun Dara.

“This is a major tourism development in Asia – it will be the second largest attraction for tourists to Cambodia after the Angkor Wat temples,” he claimed.

The company’s investment was approved in 2009 and is scheduled to take 25 years to develop the project, but Sun Dara said he doubted it would take so long.

“They have already built an office building in Kiri Sakor district and a port for transporting construction materials to develop the site, and they are preparing the infrastructure to build roads and residential buildings,” he said.

Still, some 20 families await compensation for their land, which was located on the development site, according to Kim Chit, Koh Kong Coordinator for rights group Licadho.

“The company is providing lower compensation than market prices demand,” Kim Chit said.

840 Posts
Cambodia lures estate investors
Editor | November 16, 2011 | Comments (0)

BUSINESS NEWS — Cambodia is developing its Koh Kong province, adjacent to Thailand’s Trat province, in a bid to attract investors as industrial estates in central Thailand are flooded.

Prasert Siri, exporter and port owner in Khlong Yai district in Trat, said the Cambodian government declared Koh Kong, especially its Mondol Seima district, a special economic zone where promotional privileges for investors are available.

The Cambodian government has contracted the LYP Group belonging to well-known Cambodian businessperson Ly Yong Phat, who is a native of Koh Kong, to develop and manage the special economic zone.

The Koh Kong Industrial Estate, Koh Kong Casino, Koh Kong Resort and Koh Kong Safari World, and a deep-sea port half the size of the Laem Chabang port in Thailand, are already established there.

Cambodia opened the industrial estate a decade ago and foreign investors began moving there a few years ago.

South Korean auto-parts producer Hyundai has opened a plant in the estate and a number of Japan companies will follow suit, Prasert said.

“The floods in Thailand that have inundated seven industrial estates so far have led Korean and Japanese investors to look for new locations to reduce their business risks, and the Koh Kong Industrial Estate is an interesting location,” he said.

Prasert said business growth at Koh Kong started after Thailand improved Road No.48 from Na Klua to Koh Kong. Since then, investments from Cambodians and foreigners have boomed.

China is building two hydropower dams in two Cambodian rivers. They will be completed in three years and generate 2,000 megawatts of energy that will be supplied to Koh Kong and exported to Thailand.

With these dams, Cambodia will have enough power to meet its needs for the next 10-15 years and Koh Kong will grow rapidly.

“About 1,000 Chinese businesspeople have rented commercial areas in downtown Koh Kong and are running retail, restaurants, hotels and export businesses,” Prasert said.

“They use Chinese money and language, and have made a Chinatown in Koh Kong.

“Chinese products are imported for sale in Koh Kong. This may affect Thai products in the near future.”

Kitpapha Prasitthivej, manager of S Kitrawan, Trat’s biggest port, said flooding in industrial estates in central Thailand have cut exports to Cambodia and Vietnam through Trat a lot, even though orders from both countries normally soared during the run-up to New Year.

If the flooding is prolonged and Thailand cannot supply products to Cambodia after next month, Cambodia might turn to buy products from China, Singapore and Vietnam instead.

^^ There are plans to build a huge Chinatown in Koh kong called 7 dragon city and i expect more chinese in the future!

840 Posts
Chinese Developers Gamble Away Cambodia’s History for Luxury Resort

Andrew R.C. Marshall & Prak Chan Thul | March 07, 2012

Botum Sakor, Cambodia. It was once a pristine jungle home for wild animals. But today Botum Sakor National Park in southwest Cambodia is fast disappearing to accommodate a less endangered species: the Chinese gambler.

“This was all forest once,” says Chut Wutty, director of the Natural Resource Protection Group, an environmental watchdog based in Phnom Penh, gesturing across a near-treeless landscape. “But then the government sold the land to rich men.”

He means Tianjin Union Development Group, a real-estate company from northern China, which is transforming 340 square kilometers of Botum Sakor into a city-sized gambling resort for “extravagant feasting and revelry,” its Web site says. A 64-kilometer highway, almost complete, will cut a four-lane swathe through mostly virgin forest.

National parks and wildlife sanctuaries in impoverished Cambodia could soon vanish entirely as deep-pocketed Chinese investors accelerate a secretive sell-off of protected areas to private companies, warns Chut Wutty and other activists.

The land sales also point to another trend: the expansion of Chinese economic interests in Southeast Asia’s undeveloped frontiers. Last year, the Cambodian government granted so-called economic land concessions to scores of companies to develop 7,631 square kilometers of land, most of it in national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, according to research by the respected Cambodia Human Rights and Development Organization.

The area of concessions granted has risen six-fold between 2010 and 2011, a reflection of booming trade as China’s economic influence spreads deeper into Southeast Asia. Foreign conservation groups in the country have remained silent about the sell-off for fear of angering the government of mercurial Prime Minister Hun Sen. But Cambodians dislodged from concession areas are starting to find their voices.

Fishing families in Botum Sakor say Union Group is using strong-arm tactics to relocate them far inland.

“It’s been my land since my grandparents’ generation,” says Srey Khmao, 68, from Thmar Sar. “I lived peacefully there until Union Group threatened the villagers and told them to remove their belongings.”

Such protests could ratchet up anti-Chinese sentiment in Cambodia, where China is both the largest foreign investor and source of foreign aid. That aid has made Hun Sen less reliant on Western donors, who generally demand greater transparency and respect for human rights.

It has also eroded the influence of foreign conservation groups in Cambodia. Their criticism has remained muted for fear Hun Sen will do what he did to British environmental watchdog Global Witness in 2005 and kick them out.

“The days of donor dependency are over,” says a foreign conservationist working in Cambodia, who asked not to be identified. “Much more money is coming into this country through direct investment, especially from Chinese companies, so the carrot-and-stick incentive that NGOs might have had 10 years ago isn’t as powerful these days.”

Land-grabbing, illegal logging and forced evictions are common in Cambodia. But by granting land concessions, the government has effectively legalized these practices in the country’s last remaining wilderness, activists say.

Companies from Cambodia, Vietnam and other countries are also exploiting the land sell-off, mainly to develop rubber plantations and other agribusinesses. But the most lucrative projects — mining for gold and other minerals — are dominated by the Chinese, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights says.

Cambodia’s 2001 land law forbids concessions greater than 10,000 hectares. But Union Group won a 99-year lease thanks to a 2008 decree which carved out 36,000 hectares from Botum Sakor and redefined it. That year, a contract was signed by Minister of Environment Mok Mareth and the chief of Union Group’s board of directors Li Zhi Xuan.

The company was granted a further 9,100 hectares last year to build a hydroelectric dam. Union Group has big ambitions for the area, including a network of roads, an international airport, a port for large cruise ships, two reservoirs, condominiums, hotels, hospitals, golf courses and a casino called “Angkor Wat on Sea”, according to its Web site.

It will sink $3.8 billion into its Botum Sakor resort, a figure quoted to rights groups in February by Bun Leut, governor of Koh Kong province. It covers an area almost half the size of Singapore.

The four-lane highway, built at a cost of about $1.1 million a mile, is part of a system of roads Union Group will run across Botum Sakor. This alarms Mathieu Pellerin, a researcher with the Cambodian human-rights group Licadho, who notes that newly built roads give logging operators greater access and could accelerate forest destruction.

The work sites along the highway house Chinese engineers and are guarded by Cambodian soldiers. Access to the resort area itself is blocked by a provincial park ranger who, when Reuters tried to pass, threatened to radio for back-up from military police, who along with police routinely provide security for big firms.

“This is China,” he says.

Nearby, at the seaside village of Poy Jopon, people were preparing to leave after signing away their property to Union Group — under duress, they say.

“I’m upset, but there is nothing I can do about it,” says Chey Pheap, 42, a grocery store owner. “This is the way society works.”

He and the other villagers will soon be moved to houses some 10 kilometers inland. Passing behind the houses is a moat delineating Union Group’s land. It was three meters deep, twice as wide and ran for many kilometers. For the villagers, it symbolized China’s power and remoteness.

“Even though we hate the Chinese, what can we do?” says Nhorn Saroen, 52, who was among hundreds of families already moved from Kom Saoi, another fishing village.

For Chut Wutty, Union Group’s activities smack of colonization. “You think after 99 years this land will be returned to Cambodia? You think they’ll kick the Chinese out? No way. It’s forever.”

YES...................... FINALLY!! WE WILL HAVE THE NEXT BIGGEST TOURIST ATTRACTION SOOON!!!! :cheers::cheers::cheers::cheers::cheers:

In the br i g
2,250 Posts

In the br i g
2,250 Posts
More on the news of the project. From

Villagers in capital to protest development

May Titthara , phnompenhpost, 28 February 2012

Representatives from five communes in Koh Kong province are scheduled to hold a press conference in the capital today, appealing for government intervention in a land dispute with a Chinese development company that has spanned nearly four years.
Lov Hov, a representative from Thmar Sar commune, in Botum Sakor district, told the Post yesterday villagers were staging the conference to draw attention to their plight with the Union Development Company, which was granted a 36,000-hectare economic land concession in April, 2008 to build a US$5 billion mega-tourism zone in Botum Sakor and Kiri Sakor districts.
The concession Union Development received breaches Cambodian land law, which limits government land concessions to private companies to 10,000 hectares. Last August, the company was granted an additional 9,100 hectares in the protected Botum Sakor national park to build a hydropower dam.“We are not angry with the government, we are angry with people who don’t respect the law,” Lov Hov said.
The representatives planned to urge the government to force the company to provide fair compensation for displaced villagers and proper infrastructure in the proposed resettlement area, he said.
Srey Khmao, another representative of Thma Sar commune, demanded that the government resolve the issue, saying: “We just want justice.”According to a report released by the rights group Adhoc earlier this month, Union Development has destroyed the homes of more than 1,100 families and taken 10,000 hectares of their land.

The company had also breached an agreement with the Ministry of Environment to pay between $2,500 and $8,000 in compensation per family and provide a few hectares of land, Adhoc said.

In December, following a peaceful village protest against the concession, Botum Sakor district governor Chheng Chhi vowed to resign if he had not helped broker a resolution by this month.He could not be reached for comment yesterday.

6,226 Posts
Koh Kong pagodas threatened .

Monday, 02 July 2012 May Titthara.



People pray in front of a Buddha statue at the Kiri Kongkear pagoda, in Koh Kong province's Botum Sakor district. The pagoda, as well as the Prek Smach primary school, were ordered closed by local authorities to make way for a development being carried out by the Union Development group. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post
Prak Thon says he will give up everything to stop a Chinese company from destroying his pagoda in Koh Kong province’s Kiri Sakor district.

“I’ll allow them to demolish my house, but I will not allow them to destroy the pagoda. I’m satisfied if I die, because it is my religion,” the villager said over the weekend.

The pagoda, which he said villagers built in Koh Sdech commune’s Prek Smach village in 1993, is threatened by a US$3.8 billion development by Union Development Co Ltd on two concessions that amount to more than 45,000 hectares in Botum Sakor and Kiri Sakor districts.

The departure of some 700 volunteer students on Friday, sent by Prime Minister Hun Sen to measure land across the country for villagers affected by land disputes, has not alleviated the fears of Thon and his neighbours that they will soon be evicted because of this project.

Thon is worried that despite a June 14 nationwide order by the prime minister for provincial governors to measure land for all villagers affected by economic land concessions, many will still be left without homes.

“I was happy when I heard the prime minister say that if it affected the site, the authorities had to cut land for the villagers,” he said.

But so far, Thon said, he had not seen any land measured for about 25 families of 190 in the area who are holding out and refusing to relocate despite threats from local authorities he says are trying to cheat them.

The premier would be “destroying himself” if the order was not implemented, because villagers would lose confidence in him, he said.

Even the monks abandoned the pagoda in May, he said, while the villagers who did agree to leave found themselves relocated some 40 kilometres away.

Venerable Thath Ny was the chief of Kiri Kongkear pagoda until authorities told him villagers had agreed to leave and invited him to temporarily stay at the Koh Sdach pagoda.

“I hope my pagoda will not be demolished after what Hun Sen said on June 14,” he said.

Lim Song, a representative of villagers in Botum Sakor district’s Thma Sar commune, said that while he was aware the volunteer students had been dispatched, he would believe the land was being cut out for villagers when he saw it with his own eyes.

“I live frightened that I will lose my house and rice field. I will stop being scared and believe in Hun Sen’s speech when I see the mixed committee come to measure land and give a land title to me,” he said.

Just 27 of the 47 families in his commune had resisted pressure from the company to move out, and those that remained do not trust provincial authorities to implement the prime minister’s order.

The classrooms of the local school, Prek Smach primary, have been empty since May, and 14-year-old Sann Sok wants his teachers to come back.

“I don’t know if I will have the chance to study again or not. I want to know how to read and write like other children, because I don’t want the others to call me a stupid boy,” he said.

One of his teachers was Sorn Sovannara, who said he had no choice but to leave because the district education department would have removed his name from the education ministry’s list of teachers if he resisted.

“What they did was more cruel than the Pol Pot regime. It was only during Khmer Rouge that schools and pagodas were closed. I hope that my school will be opened again after the Prime Minister Hun Sen said about the old policy, new activity for the land system,” he said.

Deputy provincial governor Say Socheat said last week a special committee had been set up to investigate the dispute and that he had travelled to an affected community on June 25 to measure land.

“We cannot cut land from the company. We have to do a provincial report in order to ask advice from the prime minister,” he said.

The Union Development Co. Ltd project will lead to the eviction of 1,143 families in five communes from 1,500 homes earmarked for destruction, according to rights group Adhoc.

Two schools and three pagodas will be removed by the completion of the project, according to Adhoc.

Koh Kong provincial governor Bun Leut said the fate of these families and buildings remained uncertain and that no volunteer students had been dispatched yet to Koh Kong in order to measure land.

“Related to the dispute between villagers and Union [Development Co Ltd], we have to have a meeting with our committee first. I cannot say in advance,” Bun Leut said.

In the br i g
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Koh Kong land reps descend on PM

From PPP :

About 70 representatives from five communities locked in land disputes in Koh Kong province protested in Phnom Penh yesterday, but were thwarted in their efforts as they called on Prime Minister Hun Sen to deploy his army of youths to measure their land and issue titles.

Three of the communities represented are in dispute with Chinese company Union Development Group, which received 36,000 hectares in economic land concessions (ELCs) in 2008 and about 9,000 more in 2011.

The total size of the concessions breaches the Land Law, under which a company is allowed to possess up to 10,000 hectares of ELC land.

As a result of the concessions, more than 1,100 families across Botom Sakor and Kiri Sakor districts are being evicted.

The other two communities represented at yesterday’s protest are in dispute with Heng Huy Agriculture Company in Sre Ambel district.

Rong Ky, a representative of 40 families who say their land is being taken, said police blocked the protesters as they tried to reach Hun Sen’s house.

“They said they would deliver our petitions on our behalf, but we disagreed. This led to confrontation for a while,” he said. “Our dispute has not been resolved, please let people have the right to live on the land and wait for a resolution.”

Phav Nhoeung, whose community in Sre Ambel district is in dispute with Heng Huy Agriculture Company, said the prime minister should send students to measure the families’ land as part of his national titling process.

“The authorities are not following Hun Sen’s directive. The company is taking our land,” she said.

Chan Soveth, senior investigator at rights group Adhoc, said the village representatives had travelled many times to the capital in hope that the prime minister would intervene to help end their land disputes.

“They keep protesting because the youths who went down to measure the land don’t seem as independent as the first group,” he said. “That’s because the local authorities – working on behalf of a company’s representatives – point them where to go.”

Lim Leangse, deputy chief of Hun Sen’s cabinet, said he had not yet received the petitions and declined to comment.
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