Tag Archives: Provinces

Tycoon Admits Land Policy Hurts Poor

Amazingly rare critics from inside the ruling party official. Very courageous, a sign of change? Grassroots power!

Tycoon lands surprise | National news | The Phnom Penh Post

One of the country’s best known tycoons yesterday delivered an impromptu speech to senators and parliamentarians that was as surprising in its content as it was in context… Photo by: Heng Chivoanc

www.phnompenhpost.com

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Fight for Your Land-Use Your Collective Power

Planting Democracy Seeds-Part 2

Rattanak Mondoul-Battambang Province-North West Cambodia

“My first husband died when he was just 25 years old. We had two children. We came to this part of the forest over 10 years ago. It was nothing but land mines. We were too desperate for land. Our young children watched their children blown up by a land mine”.

“I was clearing the forest and there it was: 3 land mines. I was so terrified, I was paralyzed. I will never forget that day”.

“The rich man tells me that I do not own this land, because I am too young. I say to him that I came with my father to plant these mango trees. I crossed this creek with my father every day. I know every parcel of this land. Do you?”

As I listen to this group of 40 farmers talking about their desperate search for land to cultivate, I hear their burning need for justice. For over a decade, they have farmed these plots of land collectively and have managed to build a community and survived year after year from the crops.

Today, rich and powerful men claim that every single plot of land in this community is theirs. They have the backing of the new village chief and the commune chief. They are protected by police and local authorities.

I say to the villagers:

Tell your stories. Tell the truth. That is your power.

Stand up together. That is your power.

Speak with one voice. That is your power.

The rich men do not have your power.

“Land is life- land is hope. ” a song from the messenger band. A group of young women who put justice into songs.

Hundreds protest over land grant- Phnom Penh Post

More than 500 villagers from Battambang province’s Sampov Loun district gathered yesterday to protest against a land concession of more than 4,000 hectares that they say will push them off their farmland.

The villagers were joined by Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Mu Sochua, who said the 70-year, 4,095-hectare land concession, awarded in March to Suon Mean Sambath Company, had been granted on the land of more than 1,000 families in Sampov Loun’s Serei Meanchey commune.

“The developments of the government nowadays are harmful to the people,” she said. “The people’s suggestion is for the government to think of the people first before thinking about companies.”

Read the complete article on the Phnom Penh Post website.

http://www.phnompenhpost.com/index.php?option=com_jomcomment&task=trackback&id=49354&opt=com_content

On the Campaign Trail- North West of Cambodia (Day 3)

Day 3 – Morning

Meeting with 50 rural youth from the party. Informed them of the power of the youth in the Arab world that brought down years of dictatorship. Only 5 of the youth gathered knew about social media but heard of the revolution in the Arab world. Of the 5, one of them young women spends US$5 a day on Internet, conversing with her 100+ friends on facebook.

Afternoon

We connected with Mr. Sam Rainsy on video conference, from Paris.
Amazing!

The youth could not imagine the power of Internet till they finished the 15-minute conversation with our leader.

It was an emotional 15-minute of conversation but a short moment that brought hope. The youth left, more determined than ever to fight for our exiled leader and for justice.

Who Killed Chea Vichea

The banned documentary film was screened at the party HQ for supporters . It will be shown the next weeks to a full audience in villages.

I received more requests for copies of the documentary.

The audience was extremely agitated by the brutality and lack of justice.

Walking through sewage – Urban town of Battambang

The rain brought a bit of freshness in the air but not so for the feet as we waded through flooded alleys through the small communities in the town of Battambang (my new constituency).

The conversation was around high cost of living and the need for better roads and sewage system. Majority of the urban poor are low ranking civil servants who live with less than US$75 a month. Women are food and vegetable vendors at the markets, making about US$2.50 per day.

SRP solution to salary increase for civil servants: eliminate corruption.
Solution for poverty reduction: free health public health care and education and other public services. Eliminate system of private markets. The government must provide free space for vendors in the rural areas, with proper facilities.

Got a vote from the hair dresser!
The end of the day allowed me to get myself cleaned up- got to the hair dresser in town and convinced her to register to vote and to vote for change. She is 28 years old and never registered to vote, including her sisters and brothers.

Went back to hotel and did a few minutes of exercise.

I have been living on noodles, bananas and mangoes!

On the campaign Trail- North West of Cambodia (Day 2)

The family of a 34 year-old mute woman brought a complaint to me against the police who demanded US$20 before he can bring the man who had raped the woman seven times. The alleged rapist escaped from the police station.

The victim is at a safe house of a local NGO. I will follow up and request a full investigation.

The day started with a village meeting of about 20 women with young children. As I was explaining to my constituents the role of an elected representative, the village chief from the ruling party interrupted the meeting by demanding a letter of authorization.

I firmly requested him to leave the premises. He insisted and I finally succeeded by asking him: Are we still living under a communist regime? Is his role to spy on people in the village?

My team of women walked through the village and visited 3 houses, covering a wide range of issues covering health care, education and basic human rights.

A young pre-school teacher in her mid 20’s was selling shaved ice to subsidy for her small salary of US$15 a month.
Moving on to the last house where a woman and some children were lying in hammocks as the siesta hour was approaching.

The woman spoke of years of poverty and how her husband died from TB. The family had to sell their land and other belongings to pay for health care.

4 million Cambodians live below poverty line.

The afternoon rain provided us with a nice rest.

On the Campaign Trail- North West of Cambodia (Day 1)

First village
Penetrated the opponents’ strong hold. We got a lead by identifying a few villagers unhappy with the ruling party.

The village chief threatened our supporter for putting up the first opposition sign in the village.

Second village
Walked into a market and right away women were desperate to talk about how tax levied on them is killing them. Even umbrellas they need for the sun are taxed. Even when they use the toilets , they need to pay. And this is in the middle of a remote part of Cambodia.Our team gave suggestions to the women to organize and to raise their voice.
Got a complaint about police taking money in the case of a mute woman who has been sexual assaulted 17 times in her life. I will write to the police chief to investigate the release of the alleged rapist.

Much to do.

Sochua

Opposition takes on plight of border villages

Having now received for five years numerous villagers’ personal complaints of land being absorbed into Vietnam, Cambodia’s opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) has been determined to carry out fact-finding missions on government alleged plantation of temporary demarcations for Vietnam on Cambodia’s territory, within the context of the 2005 recently-applied treaty. This is the case in the Takeo (Takev) Province notably, where the SRP was leading a fact finding mission last week [June 14, 2010]. 

The Cambodian authorities had rejected the SRP’s demand with the National Assembly President, Heng Samrin, forbidding this visit earlier in the week. However, as SRP spokesman Yim Sovann declared on 2 June this year, ‘We are the lawmakers, so we have the obligation […and] we have the right to monitor government action’. Mr Sovann had also added that this visit was to be done peacefully, solely to visit the border.

Thus, on 3 June, as planned, 22 SRP lawmakers, accompanied by local and international journalists, gathered at the party’s headquarters early in the morning. Leaving with a dozen cars, the group slowly gained in size, as more SRP members joined it along the way, finally reaching over 100 people.

Read the entire article here.