Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Government probing logging claims

Government probing logging claims

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Logs hauled onto a Vietnamese transporter in O'Tang for delivery to Vietnam in February this year. EIA

Government probing logging claims

The Ministry of Environment is investigating collusion between state officials and timber traders in the country’s east, Environment Minister Say Sam Al said yesterday, three days after a report exposed industrial-scale illegal logging backed by Vietnamese traders in Ratanakkiri province.

The minister’s comments came as the Vietnamese government also released a statement in response to evidence uncovered by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) that suggested Vietnamese and Cambodian officials received millions of dollars in bribes to facilitate the trade.

His admission marks the first time the ministry has acknowledged the systematic logging operation detailed in the EIA report, estimated to have stripped some 300,000 cubic metres of timber from protected areas, which are under Sam Al’s purview. The wood has allegedly been smuggled to Vietnam.

“We have opened an investigation about a year ago on this network, which has never been done before. For us it’s very significant,” Sam Al said, via WhatsApp messenger.

The environment minister declined to elaborate on the “internal investigation”, calling the matter “delicate”. He would only say the ministry was looking at “quite a few” officials from the “local administration”.

Vietnamese customs data show that almost 350,000 cubic metres of Cambodian timber crossed the border between November and March, despite a blanket ban on timber exports issued by the Kingdom’s government in January last year.

Authorities in Vietnam’s Gia Lai province issued permits for Vietnamese companies to import the wood. EIA said this amounted to laundering illegally felled timber.

In a statement via email yesterday, however, Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ press and information department denied any state involvement in the illegal timber trade.

“Vietnam law strictly prohibits smuggling, including illegal logging. All acts of smuggling, including illegal logging, shall be seriously dealt with in line with the rule of law in Vietnam,” it read.

“Vietnam and Cambodia regularly maintain close cooperation in stopping smuggling, including illegal logging. Vietnam always strictly observes relating international commitments”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • Pailin longan winery tries to break through to the big time

    Longan aren’t quite as glamorous as some fruits. They don’t have the star-power of mangos or generate the excitement of a pricey seasonal niche fruit like the pungent durian. Unlike bananas or oranges, which are known and loved everywhere, longan remains a decidedly

  • Recap of this year’s ASEAN FM meet and look ahead

    This year’s edition of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) hosted by Cambodia comes against the backdrop of heightened global tensions and increasing rivalry between major powers that have been compared to the animosity of the Cold War era. The following is The Post’

  • Debt restructuring over, time to tackle rising NPL ratio

    The Cambodian banking system has just completed a 26-month debt restructuring exercise where scores of loan accounts were revised, classified and provisioned as the rate of non-performing loans inched up, sparking a slight credit risk unease Implemented in April 2020, the Covid-19 debt restructuring measures came

  • Koh Slaket studio resort brings culture with style

    Davitra (Cambodia) Co Ltd’s multi-million-dollar 13ha Koh Slaket studio-cum-resort just east of the capital was inaugurated in the first phase on August 6, providing national and international tourists with a new travel option and job opportunities for locals. The man-made cultural and scenic lakefront getaway