In December 2008, hundreds of ethnic Bunong villagers protested against the company who had started clearing the forest and fields close to the village.
Villagers torched and smashed vehicles belonging to the company. People were angry because the company’s land clearing disrupted their agricultural activities, as family farms and crops have been destroyed to make space for the rubber tree nursery. The land, 2700 ha, was granted by the government in 2007. According to the villagers, the company offered them three options: relocate the families on other farmland of the same size; pay a compensation to the families who would accept to leave their land; let them stay on their land if they produce rubber and they will get a share of the profit from the company. But at that time, these solutions did not appear fair to the villagers who simply asked to get their land back. Few days after the protest, a meeting was organized, attended by company representatives, villagers, local and provincial authorities, and NGOs. There, 1030 families from seven villages (the majority of them Bunong) declared that the land belonged to them, because they have been using it for their rotational farming activities since decades, and they have legal ownership according to the Land Law, which protect indigenous common property rights. The meeting failed, as the villagers accused the authorities of being biased in favor of the company. According to the authorities, villagers will benefit from the company, getting new jobs, hospitals, schools and houses for rubber workers. But the villagers did not agree and claimed instead that if anybody wants to improve the living standards of the people, they should come and discuss with the people first, not just send equipment and start clearing land. Now the tension has fallen and internal division has appeared. Some villagers sold their land (between 200 and USD 300 per ha, which is very low) while the company invited the local elite to a meal washed down with plenty of beer and offered a huge show to the villagers during festivities which included the most famous comics of the Cambodian scene, escort girls and fireworks.