Sugar Oknha’s Complaint Leads to Villager’s Questioning Over Facebook Post

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Koh Kong province farmer Hong Sok walks into a flooded forest near his farmland in Sre Ambel district’s Chi Khor Krom commune on June 29, 2021. (Danielle Keeton-Olsen/VOD)

Oknha Heng Huy has filed a lawsuit for defamation and incitement against a villager who posted on Facebook that the Koh Kong sugar tycoon should work to clear his name.

Oeb Toeng, a resident of Sre Ambel district’s Chi Khor Loeu commune, was questioned at her home by commune and district police officers on Saturday, she said.

Toeng posted on July 29 and August 5, on an account named “Dada Dada,” that Huy should try to avoid getting a “rotten” reputation.

“Before dying, please do a little good deed. Do not be as in the saying that you live but the name is rotten. Do not want to hear things like: Heng Huy, who robs land from the people and summons [people] to court,” one of the posts says, alongside photos of Huy.

In response, Huy filed a complaint to commune, district and provincial police for defamation and incitement to discriminate. Defamation can lead to a fine of up to 10 million riel, or about $2,500. Incitement to discriminate, which applies to “a particular ethnicity, nationality, race or religion,” is punishable by up to three years in jail.

His complaint to district police, dated Friday, says Toeng’s posts are lies, deception and slander, and damages his reputation.

Huy’s dispute with locals traces back at least 12 years. Recurrent protests have accused the tycoon of encroaching on nearly 200 families’ land. Huy’s previous complaints have led to court summonses against 10 villagers in 2019.

Toeng said four officers visited her house for questioning in the latest case, but she defended her posts as true, saying people really had suffered for over a decade from losing their land.

“The Cambodian court seems to be so biased. [I] want to say that they see only rich people. Like the message I wrote and posted. Heng Huy sued, and they immediately arrived. So I ask: I have sued Heng Huy for three years to the Ministry of Interior, to the Ministry of Land Management, to the Prime Minister’s cabinet, but there is no solution for me. So the province and district are favored to their partisans, because he is rich and the poor people have no justice. That’s what I say,” Toeng said.

Her posts were not political, she added. “So the authorities don’t want corruption to be known to the public. When we write something about the truth, he threatens us not to speak and post messages. Think corruption cannot be removed because if we dare to speak, there is a threat. So I think every day there is no justice. If there is justice, then our land may have been settled already. But when we speak out, we are being looked at for arrest. They are always on the lookout.”

Huy could not be reached for comment. Sre Ambel district police chief Huon Non declined to comment.

(Translated and edited from the original article on VOD Khmer)

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