The government has decided to transfer nearly 100 hectares of land on Koh Sdach island in Koh Kong province’s Kiri Sakor district to local residents, who were concerned they would be forced to relocate by development companies.
Prime Minister Hun Sen signed a sub-decree on December 18 which was publicly announced on Wednesday, stating that 92 hectares of state land would be handed over to the citizens. Some parts were kept by the government as state land.
The sub-decree also gave the State Land Management Committee of Koh Kong province mandate over the land to be given to the people.
Sang Kuy, 36, a representative of Koh Sdach village, said she was pleased with the announcement because villagers were concerned they would lose their land and housing to the Union Development Group, a Chinese firm.
“I applaud the decision because we have lived here for a long time,” she said. “This Chinese company came and we were afraid they would move us to another place, but thanks to the sub-decree we feel safer, because people will have land titles.”
Khim Chandy, Kiri Sakor district governor, said Koh Sdach village has been home to about 600 families for many years.
He also expressed satisfaction that land ownership was handed to the people.
“In the past, Ministry of Land Management officials have visited to evaluate the area, and people have lived here for a long time,” Mr Chandy said. “The ministry asked the government for this decision, and I am very thankful for it.”
In Kongchit, Koh Kong provincial coordinator for rights group Licadho, said nearly 300 families were concerned about forced evictions from the island.
Residents feared the island would be leased to development companies for its beautiful sceneries and potential as a tourist destination.