Governor Offers Help to Farmers in Land Dispute With Kith Meng

About 100 villagers gathered outside the Banteay Meanchey provincial governor’s office Monday in protest against a mining company reportedly owned by tycoon Kith Meng that they accuse of encroaching on their farmland.

The 107 families from Serei Saophoan City’s Kompong Svay commune say the firm, CYL Investment, has yet to start mining the land but began demarcating its claim with concrete posts on December 2. Some of them say they have been farming the area for decades and are demanding that the firm leave.

“We protested to ask the provincial governor to revoke the license of the company because it has planted boundary posts on our farmland,” said Nem Chhun, who claims to have been farming a half-hectare plot inside the disputed area since the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1979.

Provincial governor Kosoum Saroeut said he supports the villagers and would pass on their complaint to the national government.

“I already explained to them that we will report this to the national level to find a solution because this problem does not involve the provincial government, and they agreed with me,” he said.

Mr. Saroeut said CYL is owned by Kith Meng, chairman of local conglomerate Royal Group, and was granted the economic land concession in 2010 for a stone quarry to feed a concrete-making operation.

“The company recently asked for permission to place markers around its property, and the villagers protested because they have been occupying the farmland for a long time,” he said.

The provincial governor said CYL should have settled the villagers’ claims before demarcating the land.

“The villagers will be removed because the map shows that their farms are located inside the company’s land,” he said. “But I believe the company is wrong because it has not yet solved the problem with the villagers.”

Mr. Meng declined to comment.

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