Handing Out 890 Land Titles to 660 Families in Sre Jar and Pi Thnu Communes
I am so glad today that I have a chance to preside over and for the first time to hand 890 land ownership titles to 569 families, in our effort to “implement existing policy by new actions with regard to land reform” in the communes of Sre Jar and Pi Thnu, Snuol district, Kratie province. What impressed us the most is the fact that we spent some two hours exchanging with the youth volunteers and the people who will receive their land titles today. We spent less time discussing with the youth volunteers though. This has made our meeting today so significant not only by the provision of land ownership titles for the people but a straightforward people’s seminar has been conducted.
Excellencies and Lok Chumteav have heard already from our exchange about what has happened here and may have thought that similar things would happen somewhere else. After issuing and handing our people the land ownership titles, we must see that further insfrastrutural development are in place as priority – road, school, health clinic and water for consumption and irrigation. Relevant institutions must take them up as their priorities for areas where land measuring have been conducted so far. It is my understanding that there is a need for establishing more new villages and the Ministry of Interior will have to judge according to the sub-national level authority’s proposals where and when to set up them. As for the commune of Sre Jar, it is quite large as it stretches all the way to the Jriv canal bordering with the province of Kompong Cham. However, there are not many people taking up residences here.
Today we are offering 890 land titles for 660 families. This does not mean that we are going stop the measuring process. Just now we have the proposal from the people to measure those lands on the northern side of the national road as we already did it on the southern part. Therefore I would like to make public that measuring will continue and we will not stop until we have fulfilled the mission.
The case in which lands cannot be measured is when it is in dispute. Today we have 25 cases of lands in dispute on display and 13 of them have been resolved by land owners. So they have been measured. The remaining 12 cases have yet to be measured as their differences have not yet resolved. The second case where land cannot be measured is when those lands are recently newly claimed. The state cannot be forced to accept any person or group’s inappropriate power or the public administration would lose it efficiency. Take for instance the case of Kompong Damrey, you have just heard from the people here, there were actions of forcing the people to do so and so and to pay tax too. That is outragious and unacceptable.
In light of this, every land holders who have land disputes must resolve the differences among themselves. The twelve families with land disputes have lost their chance to get the titles now but it seems they already had their titles. The point is that the people who hold the titles and the people who actutally work on the land are different. So they have to work out their differences and find a suitable solution later. As is said the recently newly claimed land would not be recognized and measured.
The Royal Government clearly understands our people’s need for land and has prepared land for giving out as social land concession for the people. We continue to provide social land concession to the people who really need land. This has clearly reaffirmed the Royal Government’s policy on profound land reform through the “new implementation of existing policy.” I am seeking our people’s understanding – in Snuol district, in Kratie as well as in the whole country – that sooner or later we will complete this task. Please do not be anxious. It is just a question of time. We will proceed with measuring land for the people.
It is indeed like a seminar. However, it is different from the seminar that was organized by the civil society and participated by various political parties’ representatives, a few days ago. The moderator said in that seminar that the Cambodian People’s Party could not make it to the seminar because of busy schedule. Let me clarify that the Cambodian People’s Party has not got time for hotel-organized seminar. The CPP already has a clear land policy and is actually implementing it. Aside from that the CPP officials are making active participation with the Royal Government’s mechanism, which there is also the help of Funcinpec, to measure land for the people.
Our seminar today has not been accounted for but I told relevant officials last night that if we had time I would discuss a bit with people who would receive the ownership titles. That is why we have asked the youth volunteers to make some remarks on the settlement and the cultivation in the ownership provision areas. The people will be confident. Take for instance the issue of four prioritized infrastrutural components to be resolved for the people in those places.
As these places are far away from the centre, people here are all new residents except those in the village of Mean Jei, which is an old village and close to the National Road. Perhaps there are few other places too that are old residential areas. However, during the war, people fled and only returned after the war ended too. Some returned to their own villages while others did not. Based on the reality we have the need to establish new villages and while this is the responsibility to be taken by the administrative authority, I am sure we all agree that there must also be support to be provided for the infrastructural development as well. We have to make sure these people are accessible to road, school, health clinic and irrigation on top of water for consumption. Institutions concerned should incorporate the relevant four areas of infrastructural development into short and medium term policies so that we can work out on budgetting.
As for school. today HE Im Chhun Lim (Minister for Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction) and HE Sar Chamrong, Governor of Kratie, will cover the cost of building one school here. I do one too. We also provided five school buildings for Siem Reap, seven for Banteay Meanjei and one for Kompong Thom. These are the contributions generous people can make but as far as road, irrigation, health clinic are concerned, they should be included in short and medium term political framework.
Resolving land issue and providing land to the people is not a new matter for the Cambodian People’s Party or the Royal Government. Why do I always mention “new implementation of existing policies”? It is because it is not a new issue for the Cambodian People’s Party and/or Hun Sen. Measuring land and giving people land titles this time can be considered the fourth of its kind. The first one was after the liberation (from the genocide) in 1979. Take for instance, the gentleman over there and brother Nhim Khev here never have land ownership titles before. (Haven’t we heard them said) the Frnech (companies that were in Cambodia to run the rubber plantation) chased them from one place to another. They moved to Mean Jei village. They after were arrested and jailed by the Polpotists. The liberation of the country in 1979 allowed them to return to their village but there were no such things as land ownership titles. If I am not mistaken, it has been a whole life already that people between Snuol of Kratie and Krek of Kompong Cham province never have land ownership titles.
I had been among the people who farmed in the Jamkar Thmey (new farm) in Memot too. My father led us here. Toward the end we bought about 12 hectares of land at Porng Toeuk (but I do not remember if) there were any ownership titles. We just bought (and possessed) it like what Mr. Khev did. (I think it was a good I dea that) he did not use all the money he had to buy motorcycle but 25 hectares of land. I think brother Khev has got gold (by which I mean) the land is the gold. We cultivate and sell our produce from the land. With the sale one can buy gold, motorcycle, etc.
Well, Pol Pot discarded the land ownership no matter if there were or not one everywhere throughout the country. Take for instance areas along the national road 7. During the war in 1970 people fled their properties. That was followed by the fact that Pol Pot later abolished all ownerships. After 1979, our people came back to possess the land once again. Some went to former places while some went to new places. That is what was given in the first place. In the decade 1980, each family might consist of only father and mother plus two children. Over thirty years later the family size becomes larger with more children, sometimes in matter of double or triple. When most of the families each had four people, two hectares of land was good to feed them. However, when the family size grows bigger, the feeding capacity of two hectares of land does not suffice. People therefore had to seek new land, where some claimed and possessed them and some purchased those claimed land.
We engaged in another land settlement for the second time in 1991/92 and early 1993, when we had returnees coming from Thailand to Cambodia. The State of Cambodia then was in charge of finding lands for those returnees. In the early phase of the process, lands were provided and homes were built but in the later stage of the development, the United Nations Transitional Authority (UNTAC) opted for giving those returnees with cash and let them find a place of their own. I told Mr. Yasushi Akashi, Head of UNTAC, that that would result in numerous consequences. Finally, a number of those returnees have anarchically occupied certain places in various cities. It is in that respect that anarchic occupation of state land is not solely the responsibilty shouldered alone by the former State of Cambodia but also by UNTAC.
When did we provide people with land for the third time? It was after the intergration (of the former Khmer Rouge forces and occupied areas in 1998) when people in the former Khmer Rouge-held territory and those migrating there were provided with land. Now is the fourth time. We provide people with land titles over the lands that belong to the three land categories that I mentioned earlier – first, forest concesion land, for example the land that is relating to Samling or Kasutim companies here; second, economic concession land, where we need to define clearly the boundary between companies and those belong to the people; and third, state land that are occupied by the people and have yet to be legalized.
In some instances, because of insufficient research relating to the areas where people reside and cultivate and also because people do not have ownership titles, misunderstandings and acts of encroaching upon one another between people and companies arise. In fact lease of land on concession to companies for agricultural investment is nothing new or disastrous. The problem so far has been the uncetainty between the boundaries of the lands that belong to the people and the lands that the state provides to companies. It is in this development that the Royal Government is taking a necesary step to make it a priority to delimit the two and measuring land for the people must be conducted first and leaving the lands for companies to be settled later.
For instance, in this area, a size of over 1,000 hectares of land have been provided as concession to private companies. As of now, some 990 land holdings or 900 hectares of land have been cut out. As long as the lands have not yet cultivated (by the company) and the people have actually resided and cultivated on those lands, the state can take the lands back (from the company). It would be a different matter only if the land has already been cultivated. So we are addressing shortcomings from the past by prioritizing our land measuring work for the people first. It is in this regard that companies whose land areas are not clear with regard to their boundaries with those land of the people must cease their action for the time being and abide by those instructions stated in the investment regulation.
The third type of land to be sorted out for the people is those claimed and occupied illegally some years ago and now I see the need to revise the way to address as lands whose possessions have yet to be legallized. Take the case of Mr. Khev and Mr. Kev into consideration, those lands that they have claimed or bought and/or possessed before today have yet to be legallized because those lands are the public state land and have to be transferred first into private state land. The companies working here are also not yet fully legal because their lands need to have transference first. The land transference was just issued on 17 September 2012. In general, there are three types of land – first, the public state land; second, private state land; and third, private lands belong to people and their families.
Based on this reason, the Royal Government or the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction would not be able to issue land ownership titles as long as they are not yet transferred. That is why in some places it is necessary to issue a subdecree to transfer public state land into private state land before issuance of ownership titles could proceed. Take for instance in the case of land that we provide land titles today, we based on the subdecree 148 ANKr B/K dated 14 September 2012 to issue these land titles. If the land has yet to be transferred and we issue land titles today for the people, the land titles would mean nothing and it is the Prime Minister who acts against the land law.
As far as I could remember, land in such condition is no less than two third of the land to be addressed. The remaining one third would be relating to forest concession land. According to the data provided by 21 provinces and cities, we have 1,825,734 hectares of land and 478,928 families concerned. These are the figures that we are dealing with in our work so as to provide our people with full land ownership rights. All these are the work concerning our efforts to provide land to our people for the fourth time.
It was stated before that we might issue primary land ownership titles for the people (while the final titles would be issued thereafter). Today we give out to people the official titles right away because all procudures have been fulfilled, including also the display of land holding information for a period of thirty days. With trust placed on efforts of the cadastral officials, local authorities of all levels and the youth volunteers in strictly measuring these lands, we have decided to issue official titles for the people without having to go through the two phases as planned. We can take short cut now because we have done a great job. I just want to add here that as we have been using hand-held GPS62S equipment, in order to guarantee proper calculation, similar equipement must be used for measurement at any time thereafter.
I urge our people to find big pillars for placing their boundary markers. I have noticed that in some places the boundary markers are made of concrete. In order to guarantee that even if the land size is in fact larger than the one stated in the land holding information and title, you had better place strong and lasting pillars. If A and B have joint boundary, I urge them go together and plant big pillars together. This should help avoid problem in the future for your children. Now A and B are alive there should not be any problem but when they are no longer here, their children will have boundary dispute because the pillars will not be there or where they used to. They then would leave all the responsibility to their parents or grandparents.
As of today the display of information has been done for 18,151 land holdings. I have followed the data strictly. Even when I was abroad I also looked into this development here. For me this is not a small work as it affects some 50,000 families or about two million people. I would take this time to inform all of the youth volunteers that you now have your own website “kolbotkhmer.com.kh” and I encourage all of you to write and post your ideas in it. You can also send your photos there. I am sure you can find place where you can access it from here.
Judging from the results I think we still have time and we will not withdraw if the job has not been done. Today we ring the bell to launch the schedules for land titles offering. As far as those titles to be distributed to the people in Battambang, I have asked HE Sar Kheng to start first because I have some prior engagement to attend to. As I am coming to Kratie as my first handing out of land titles, some social analysts, so they called themselves. stated that “Hun Sen chose to come to Snuol first because he needs to fix the people’s hearts in Snuol.” My response would be hard to take but if I do not do it, it would be unfair. If they make such poor analysis, how could they represent Cambodia? The question now is not where I go first but where the job has been finished.
Today we have here a German and a Dutch, who took my picture in the 1980s. (Holding a picture in hand) the picture here shows me going from “Battambang to Banteay Meanjei and from Banteay Meanjei to Siemreap prior to the withdrawal of the Vietnamese troops in 1989. Now I could recall it that the picture was taken about one month before the Vietnamese withdrawal and the first Paris conference.” That was how this Prime Minister (Hun Sen) lived and worked. It is not today but since 1989 and in my 37 years of age, I walked, sat and spoke with people. That was when some negotiators said “if there could be no solution, fighting must go on.” I responded to them “if fighting goes on for twenty more years, I would be only 57 years old.” This means that if they decided to go on fighting for twenty more years, those people might die before me as they were older than I was.
Well, the seminar we had just now clarifies what more we should do. We all have heard that there were confrontation, in which knives and rifles are involved. Those words came from the bottom of their hearts. I am in Snuol today and on 30 September 2012 I will hand out titles for people in Kuas Kralar district, Battambang province. On October 2 I will go to the Kravanh district, Pursat province (it was later changed to October 1). On 5 September 2012 I will go to the district of Romies Hek of Svay Rieng province; on 7 October I will go to the district of Thmar Puok of Banteay Meanjei; on 10 October, I will go to the district of Tchouk, Kompot province and on 13 October, I will hand out titles for people in the district of Stoeung Trang, Kompong Cham province. Do I have to be in all these places to fix people’s hearts?
In order to make it easy to identify, we have designed and printed the titles (holding and showing it to the people) like this. The Royal Government employs certain methods to prevent fake copying or counterfeiting and/or for selling it to others. We have employed technology to make it very hard to copy. That is one security option. The second security option, the titles are printed on a kind of paper which watermarking technology is used like that of the banknote. At normal temperature, the Royal insignia of Cambodia is invisible but it will appear when the temperature drops to below 17 degree centigrade. Another security reference is when you put the paper against ray of light you will see an image of Angkor Wat too.
With all these special security characteristics, I am sure that Banks will look for them when they purchase, sell and/or pawn. These special security elements should be able to prevent these papers from counterfeiting. As you all have the titles in hands they are gold in hand now. I strongly urge you do not sell them but keep them for your children.
I thank the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction under the leadership of Senior Minister Im Chhun Lim for doing such a good job. I thank the provincial authority of Kratie but also provinces where land measuring is taking place. I thank the armed forces and everyone who have engaged in implementing this very big mission. I thank the people for their big hearts to reserve trust and provide support to the cadastral officials and the youth volunteers to measure land and give them their loves. I have been entrusted these youth volunteers from their parents and supervisors so I have to take high responsibility.
I am so satisfied that the authorities, the armed forces and especially the people who are fond of these youth volunteers. In this sense, I also hope their parents and supervisors are also satisfied. This time we have made correct decision. If we were to use up to ten thousand soldiers to do the job we would not be able to guarantee same results because measuring land requires sufficiently knowlegeable person and they must know how to use email and/or GPS equipment.
Some people mocked from the beginning that “they also wanted to join in this mission” but I turn their offer away as there is no need for them to do that. Some people in the civil society said they are so “sorry” and “concerned” because those youth volunteers are wearing uniform.
What do you expect? These young men and women are working in the forest. Even with this military uniform, because of rain almost every day, it wears out fast. Whatever they say, the youth volunteers have gained so much experience concerning social works from helping people and sharing what they have with the poor, people with big family and elderly people. Some also taught kids, fixed school buildings, houses, serving monks and helping local authority to build bridge in Kompong Thom province.
Please let me remind you all that when you visit the youth volunteers, you also visit the cadastral officials because they are in the same group. Without the cadastral officials, our youth volunteers would not have been able to do the job. I advise that the youth volunteers consider the cadastral officials their instructors on the job in addition to what they have been briefly trained. In other matter, I will be able to go to only 20 places to give out land titles to people. I have removed from my program the visit to participate in the General Assembly session of the United Nations on 25 September for I cannot leave my ailing father. When I was in Iran and China lately, without his knowledge, my father wept like a kid. I first saw my father’s tear in the 1960s when our rice field in Tuol Sambuor was flooded and damaged. I was about 15 years of age then./.