Le in hospital (Photo: Thanh Nien Online]

Two hurt in “land grab” incident at Vietnam-S’pore industrial park

Le in hospital (Photo: Thanh Nien Online]
Le in hospital (Photo: Thanh Nien Online]

Vietnamese news have reported that two persons, including a 54-year old woman, have been injured in what is described as an anti-land grab protest on Friday at a Vietnam-Singapore industrial park.

A video of the incident has since been uploaded online.

The 150-hectare park is a collaboration between Singapore’s Government-linked Sembcorp Development and Vietnam’s Becamex IDC.

The video showed the woman, Le Thi Cham, being pinned underneath a bulldozer while others tried to ask the driver of the vehicle to stop.

Protesters pelted the bulldozer with rocks, as others attempted to lift the vehicle to free the woman.

According to Vietnamese state media, Le was part of a group of farmers who were protesting the inadequate compensation for farmland seized to build the industrial park located in Hai Duong province, about 60 km (36 miles) from the capital Hanoi.

“There were a lot of people there, all trying to stop the bulldozer,” Le, who was taken to hospital, later told the media. “I tripped and fell.  I think the driver knew I was there, but I guess he just ignored me.”

Some reports have said she suffered scapula fracture, broken facial bones and severe bleeding.

Local news also said Le has no children and live off the small piece of farmland which is now being taken over for development.

The Vietnam Human Rights Defenders (VHRD) website says “land grabbing is a problematic and systematic issue in Vietnam where all land belongs to the state and residents have only right to use it.”

All land in Vietnam is owned by the state and usage rights are not always clear or well-protected, and anyone wanting to use the land for any purposes must get a certificate from the authorities.

“Under the country’s law, the government and authorities in localities have rights to take land from residents for defense and security or social-economic development projects,” VHRD says. “Many Vietnamese across the country have been forced to give their land at cheap prices for urban and industrial projects.

“If residents object to land revoke, they will face harassment of the local authorities which often use armed police and army to support land clearing operations.”

Screenshot from video
Screenshot from video

“Sembcorp’s joint venture VSIP Joint Stock Company bought the undeveloped site, then known as the Cam Dien-Luong Dien Industrial Park, from a Japanese-owned infrastructure firm Phuc Hung Co in April this year,” Channel Newsasia reported in June.

“Local media reports said the site had been empty for years, triggering protests from local residents who gave up farmland for it.”

CNA said Sembcorp had “declined to share the total investment value, but said in a statement on Apr 21 that the total investment will be funded partly by equity of US$11m from its joint venture and partly by external borrowings.”

Such disputes in Vietnam have in the past led to deaths, such as an incident earlier this year when a woman was reportedly killed in a police station in Ba Dinh district in a land seizure case.

Another resident in Danang city was reported to have self-immolate several years ago after the local authorities took his land without paying adequately.

“Millions of rural tenants are vulnerable to the whims of local officials, who can reclaim land for vaguely-defined “public interest” reasons, which experts say leads to widespread local corruption,” India’s Zee News reported.

There are a total of seven such parks which are a collaboration between Vietnam and Singapore.

The VSIP in Hai Duong is expected to be ready for tenants by the end of this year.