Archive for February 12th, 2008

Week 546 – 2008-02-10: National and International Land Disputes

Posted on 12 February 2008. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 546 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 546

Mirroring events in Cambodia, we have regularly reports about land disputes when the right of ownership of land is contested. Some cases find a peaceful solution by mutual agreement, others have lead to violence. The losing party – not always the smaller party! – may try to get justice by appealing to the court. Some do not appeal, assuming that they could not find justice in this way, while others try.

When a land dispute goes across a national boundary, as happens sometimes in border areas, things are not only more complicated – they may lead to international confrontation or even to larger conflicts. When such conflicting claims concern not only some small stretches of land along a national borderline, but relate to contradicting claims between states about large regions of land and the people living there, even the international community may get involved in different ways.

During recent weeks, a Cambodian politician had raised the question of re-opening a Taiwanese trade-relations office in Phnom Penh, as it had existed until 1997, to facilitate the handling of the substantial volume of investment from Taiwan, as well as trade and travel – a Taiwanese airline connects Taipei regularly with Phnom Penh, and a Cambodian airline brings Taiwanese tourists directly to Siem Reap. The Cambodian government rejected the idea to have again such a liaison office as contrary to the One-China-Policy of Cambodia – considering Taiwan as part of the People’s Republic of China, and therefore also claiming that the people of Taiwan do not have the right to ask for membership in the United Nations.- The difficulties of hundreds of Cambodian women married to Taiwanese men can also not get easy attention because of the absence of diplomatic contacts.

As I participated, shortly after this discussion in the media, in an international conference in Taiwan, I became aware of interesting aspects of this complex problem. When I asked a Vietnamese participant in the same conference how he had arranged his travel documents to come to Taiwan, he told me that this was very easy, he just went to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Hanoi [Van phong Kinh te va Van hoa Dai Bac tai Hanoi] where he quickly got his travel documents without any difficulty. Both countries – in spite of the One-China-Policy of Vietnam – benefit obviously from their smooth mutual relations: on the morning of my return from Taiwan there were three direct flights from Taiwan to Vietnam announced on the schedule of the airport.

I write about this experience while I am in India. There were reports in the press about another case of a land conflict – this time between China and India. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had visited a region in the far north-east on 31 January 2008, the Indian federal state of Arunachal Pradesh. And it was reported that he had said that Arunachal Pradesh is “our land of the rising sun,” a clear message to China – which also claims the same region as belonging to China. This region had – back in history – also been related to Tibet, and Tibet was made part of the People’s Republic of China. The Indian prime minister’s visit and his statement led to a diplomatic protest by China, and a rejection of the Chinese protest by India. The India Times wrote on 9 February 2008: “Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India and India’s Prime Minister has every right to visit the state. The Chinese, however, aren’t too happy about it, just as they aren’t happy about our control over Sikkim. The reaction from China to Dr. Manmohan Singh’s visit, even though in poor taste, was along expected lines. And so was India’s, which immediately reasserted that the state is ours.”

These mutual claims had led to a sharp military conflict, the Sino-Indian War of 1962. The present statements of mutual claims and mutual protests are a reminder of the fact that such and similar claims can lead to war. And that war with all the destruction and sufferings it brings has to be avoided.

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Monday, 11.2.2008: Companies Invested on 70,000 Hectares of Economic Land Concession in Kratie Province, Only 200 Hectares of the Land Have Been Planted With Rubber Trees

Posted on 12 February 2008. Filed under: Week 547 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 547

“Kratie: Ten companies had been granted authorization to invest on more than 70,000 hectares of economic land concessions in Kratie province. Until now, only one company has planted rubber trees on 200 hectares of land. The others have just leveled the ground and cut down trees.

“Mr. Kuy Huot, Director of the Kratie Provincial Department of Agriculture recently told Rasmei Kampuchea that in Kratie, there are 10 companies that were granted economic land concessions by the Royal Government. Among them, 6 companies are in Sambo district, 3 companies are in Snuol, and 1 company is in Kratie, totaling 70,000 hectares of land.

“But those companies seem to have not done anything remarkable according to the contracts made with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

“So far, the contracts of two companies in Svay Chreah commune, Snuol, and of a Chinese company in Sambo were terminated or temporarily suspended.

“The director of the Kratie Provincial Department of Agriculture continued to say that among all companies only Phou Rieng, that was granted nearly 10,000 hectares in Snuol, has planted rubber trees on more than 200 hectares of land. The company will continue to plant rubber trees on additional 300 hectares of land in 2008 as projected according to the company’s master plan.

“Some other companies planted no trees in 2007. They only leveled the ground and prepared roads into the company’s premise, and they built some infrastructure within their companies.

“Mr. Kuy Huot noted that the delayed process of these companies in Kratie is due to the fact that they are waiting for their master plans to be approved by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

“Some other companies have already prepared [rubber] seedlings to be planted during the rainy season in 2008.

“The director of the Provincial Department of Agriculture added also that those companies that have economic land concessions include Phou Reing, Heng Heng Sambath, and the Tong Meng Group that had planed to plant rubber trees. But they do not plan to plant rubber trees, but to grow teak trees using seedlings of a quick-growing variety.

“For granting authorization to private companies to invest on economic land concessions, the Royal Government has the clear policy of granting only land not covered by forest. The benefits from such investments are used to encourage the private sectors to create employment for people and income for the country.

“Mr. Kuy Huot added that the companies that received these economic land concessions have to plan and study the socio-economic and environmental impact in advance. Besides that, the Ministry of Agriculture and the provincial authorities have to ensure that the companies’ investments will achieve good results and will not have negative effects.

“Actually, some of these companies having economic land concessions for investment in Kratie did not properly follow the Royal Government’s policy. Those companies only want to occupy the land and the forests so that they can gain benefit for their own companies”. Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4512, 10.2.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 11 February 2008

Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #40, 11.2.2008

  • Human Rights Party Concerned about Yuon [Vietnamese] Entering to Get Voter Registration Cards Issued to Vote for Cambodian People’s Party
  • Parliamentarians and Officials of No-Longer Opposing Party [= Sam Rainsy Party] Who Are Hungry for Power Join the Cambodian People’s Party
  • Sam Rainsy Sends Followers to Join and Ask for Power from the Cambodian People’s Party Before He and All Other Officials Become Hun Sen’s Slaves after the 2008 Elections [Chuoy Khmer editorial]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #106, 11.2.2008

  • Mr. Eng Chhay Ieng [secretary-general of the Sam Rainsy Party]: Even if Eng Chhay Ieng would Leave, Sam Rainsy Party Would Not Be Weak
  • Prince Ranariddh: I Am Not Confident that I Will Be Able to Return to the Country Soon

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3384, 11.2.2008

  • Eng Chhay Ieng: Sam Rainsy Party Does Not Consider Individuals’ Positions to Be Important [about Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians leaving the party to join the Cambodian People’s Party]
  • Oknha Khov Chily Removed as Advisor to Chea Sim because of Land Disputes [in Koh Kong]
  • Nuon Chea Calls for Help from Strongman Hun Sen; Ieng Sary Sent [from hospital] Back to Khmer Rouge Tribunal Prison

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4512, 10-11.2.2008

  • Companies Invested on 70,000 Hectares of Economic Land Concession in Kratie Province, Only 200 Hectares of the Land Have Been Planted With Rubber Trees
  • About 20% of Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians Join Cambodian People’s Party
  • Samdech Dekchor Speaks about Preparation to Reconstruct Main Irrigation Systems in Kompong Speu with More Than US$50 Million
  • US Ambassador [to Cambodia Joseph A. Mussomeli]: In Many Countries Ambassadors Have Bodyguards, but Not Here [he said he walks his three-year-old son every day in Phnom Penh without being afraid of anything]
  • Australian Federal Police Will Come to Help to Increase Capacity of Cambodian Officials Who Implement Laws against Drugs

Go to last week’s editorial

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