BY AUN PHEAP | NOVEMBER 26, 2014
Mong Reththy, one of Cambodia’s most prominent tycoons, complained Tuesday that recent recipients of expansive land concessions from the government have less of a social conscience than entrepreneurs granted land in the 1990s.
Speaking on the sidelines of a conference hosted by USAID and the NGO Forum titled “Working Together to Promote Effective Reform on Land and Natural Resources Governance in Cambodia,” Mr. Reththy told reporters that disputes between concession holders and displaced villagers were nothing new.
“I have more than 20 years experience investing in economic land concessions [ELCs],” he said, going on to recount his past efforts to deal with disputes that arose.
“People complained that they did not have land for building houses, so I prepared land for them to build houses on…. Then the people didn’t have land for rice cultivation, so I cultivated it [for them], but then they could not harvest it because they were lazy.”
In contrast to his own generosity, Mr. Reththy said, recipients of concessions in recent years, when pressured to resolve disputes with displaced or threatened villagers, forget that the land comes with a responsibility to use it for the benefit of the country as a whole.
“There are many problems that we are required to sit down and talk about because some concessionaires do not understand their obligations,” he said.
“People trying to solve the problems should not think about their individual benefit,” he said. “They should think about the interests of the people and the nation…and the problems will be solved.”