Cambodian land seizures protested

Human rights groups yesterday staged a demonstration in front of the headquarters of Ve Wong Corp — a well-known food manufacturer that produces instant noodles, sauces and snacks — in Taipei, protesting against the alleged seizure of farmland in Cambodia by two of the company’s joint ventures.

“The forced seizure of farmland in Cambodia’s Koh Kong Province by Koh Kong Sugar Co Ltd and Koh Kong Plantation Co Ltd is a very well-known case among human rights activists in Southeast Asia,” said Roxanna Chen (陳思穎), a protester who used to work at a human rights organization based in Thailand. “After looking deeper into the case, I realized that a Taiwanese firm was one of the major investors in the two companies and that’s why I think we should take some actions here in Taiwan.”

According to Chen, Ve Wong owns a 30 percent stake in each of the companies operating in Cambodia, with the remainder of both fims owned by the Thailand-based Khon Kaen Sugar Co and Cambodian member of parliament, Ly Yong Phat.

Since 2006, Koh Kong Sugar has seized 9,600 hectares of farmland and Koh Kong Plantation took 9,400 hectares to build a sugarcane plantation and a sugar processing plant, Chen said.

Several Cambodian farmers were killed or injured by security personnel dispatched by the companies as they tried to protest the seizure of their farmland, she added.

“I don’t know the law, but I want to say that it’s fine for Ve Wong to make money, but they have no right to do so by hurting others and depriving farmers of their rights,” said Ly Vouch Hang, a Cambodian immigrant who represented the TransAsia Sisters Association Taiwan at the protest.

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