Cambodia: Phnom Penh Sugar accuses NGO of causing “irreparable damage” to Senator’s/owner’s reputation; NGOs stand by claims of Senator’s links to rights abuses

On 18 August 2014, Phnom Penh Sugar took out advertisements in major Cambodian dailies saying that accusations made against its owner Senator Ly Yong Phat with regard to activities in Koh Kong and Oddar Meanchey are “irresponsible and without foundation”. The advertisements singled out statements by Eang Vuthy, the Executive Director of Equitable Cambodia.

On 21 August, seven Cambodian NGOs released a joint statement in support of Eang Vuthy, and outlining the links of Senator Ly Yong Phat to the plantations in Koh Kong and Oddar Meanchey, especially at the time of forced evictions.

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25 August 2014

Cambodia: NGOs stand by Equitable Cambodia’s claim that Senator Ly Yong Phat was involved in forcible eviction of thousands

Author: Equitable Cambodia, Building Community Voices, Housing Rights Task Force, Community Peace-Building Network, LICADHO, Community Legal Education Center & Inclusive Development International

“Statement in Response to Phnom Penh Sugar Company’s Allegations Against Equitable Cambodia Executive Director Eang Vuthy”, 21 August 2014

On August 18, 2014, the Phnom Penh Sugar Co. Ltd., took out advertisements in several major Cambodian newspapers accusing Equitable Cambodia’s Executive Director, Mr. Eang Vuthy, of making false and misleading statements about Oknha Ly Yong Phat, and causing “irreparable damage” to the Senator’s reputation as well as that of his business, Phnom Penh Sugar...Eang Vuthy did not say anything to suggest that the Senator was currently involved in the operations of these sugar companies…While the Senator may currently have no involvement in the management or ownership of Khon Kaen Sugar Company’s in Koh Kong province or Mitr Pohl Sugar Company’s in Oddar Meanchey province, there is strong evidence that Ly Yong Phat was involved with each of these companies and with the forcible eviction of thousands of villagers…[The] human rights abuses [in Koh Kong] were committed in 2006 and 2007 when Ly Yong Phat was the Chairman of one of the companies and a major shareholder of the joint venture…In 2007, local authorities told villagers affected by the [Oddar Meanchey] concessions that if they want to file complaints against any of the three companies, they should be addressed to H.E. Ly Yong Phat, “since he is in charge of all of them.”…[refers to Angkor Sugar, Koh Kong Plantation, Kong Kong Sugar, Sugar Valley, Tonle Sugar Cane]

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25 August 2014

Cambodia: Phnom Penh Sugar denies Senator’s ties to sugar plantations linked to rights abuses, says NGO claims “hurt the honor” of the Senator

Author: Zsombor Peter & Aun Pheap, Cambodia Daily

“CPP Senator Denies Ties to Sugar Plantations”, 20 August 2014

…Senator Ly Yong Phat…denied long-running claims, reportedly repeated by a local NGO…that he has any interest in sugarcane plantations in Koh Kong and Oddar Meanchey provinces, which are accused of stealing land from local farms and other rights abuses. Sen. Yong Phat is the owner of the equally controversial Phnom Penh Sugar plantation in Kompong Speu province…According to NGOs, farmers in Oddar Meanchey claim that local authorities have told them to take their complaints against a trio of plantations there, officially owned by Thai sugar firm Mitr Pohl, to Sen. Yong Phat. They say families there have also been forced off the plantations’ land both by company employees bearing Sen. Yong Phat’s name and by soldiers from a military unit that his company provides donations to…Phnom Penh Sugar…claims that Eang Vuthy of the NGO Equitable Cambodia again accused the senator of being the local partner of the Koh Kong and Oddar Meanchey plantations at a press conference…It says the claims have caused “confusion” and “hurt the honor” of the senator. Mr. Vuthy, Equitable Cambodia’s executive director…denied referencing Sen. Yong Phat at…[the] press conference but nonetheless stood by the claim that he was tied to the plantations in Koh Kong and Oddar Meanchey…

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