Koh Kong provincial authorities announced that a lottery will be held to distribute land to more than 800 families in dispute with the Union Development Group, as holdouts continue to reject the settlements that they say will leave them with smaller plots in worse locations.
UDG, a massive Chinese-owned, U.S.-sanctioned development company in the coastal province, has been embroiled in disputes with residents for years, with more than 1,000 families forced off about 10,000 hectares, and 1,500 houses dismantled and cleared, according to past research reports.
Last month the provincial administration said it was preparing resettlement for 1,333 families, divided into three categories.
This week, it announced the first batch of land lotteries would be held on Thursday and Friday for one of those three categories, comprising 831 families in Botum Sakor and Kiri Sakor districts.
However, several families said many were still holding out. Sem Thy, said he had about 8 hectares, but would only be eligible to receive 1 hectare at a new location and $400 in cash. Saing Puy said she also had 8 hectares, but qualified for only 2 hectares. Preap Ratha said she currently had only 0.6 hectares, but it was by the sea and she could earn a livelihood. She refused to move to a new area, where she had seen previously relocated families struggle, she said.
Thy said long-time residents with documentation were being lumped together with others who had tenuous claims.
“How can I accept it, because I have enough documents. If I didn’t have documents like those who are accepting it, I would agree. Those recipients never protested to demand [compensation], but they also got 1 hectare. For me, I’ve protested for 13 years already, and they also give me 1 hectare,” Thy said.
Puy also said she had a legal title, and wanted compensation in line with the actual size of her claim.
Koh Kong deputy governor Sok Sothy said it was natural to have disagreements.
“It is normal that those who do not want it, keep saying they don’t want it. But this is the government’s policy.”
Correction: This article has been updated to say that UDG is the company, not the development itself.