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Mondulkiri officials under fire for land encroachment

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Sar Kheng has called for some officials to be fired. Hean Rangsey

Mondulkiri officials under fire for land encroachment

Prime Minister Hun Sen has agreed with the results of the inter-ministerial working group on the study of illegal forest encroachment in protected areas in Mondulkiri province.

But he has yet to issue a formal announcement after Minister of Interior Sar Kheng requested the termination of some official positions, according to ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak.

Sopheak told The Post on Sunday the inter-ministerial working group has been studying the case of illegal forest land occupation and encroachment of protected areas in Mondulkiri province with transparency, integrity and evidence.

“We have all the principles, but as we have not yet received the directive for implementation. We will not be able to announce publicly. It is not a secret.

“We already have everything the Prime Minister assigned us to do. We reported to the Prime Minister and he agreed with what the inter-ministerial working group concluded,” Sopheak said.

Sar Kheng on July 22 issued a decision on the “Establishment of an inter-ministerial working group to study cases of illegal forest land occupation and encroachment of protected areas in Mondulkiri province”.

The decision to establish the inter-ministerial working group was based on a note from the Prime Minister dated July 8.

Sar Kheng assigned Minister of Interior secretary of state Ang Mongkul to head the working group to study the case of illegal forest land occupation and encroachment of protected areas in Mondulkiri province.

On August 30, Sar Kheng submitted a letter to Hun Sen to review and decide on the results of the study’s request to modify the duties of the governor and terminate the positions of nine officials.

“After listening to the report of the study team, the group found that provincial governor Svay Sam Eang didn’t make serious mistakes as accused and requested the prime minister keep him in his position and educate him to fulfil his responsibilities,” the letter stated.

The same letter noted a request for the termination of Region 8 Senator Noy Sron. The group found that Sron used his position and power to instruct local officials to sign illegal land documents.

“Based on this reason, the meeting respectfully requested Samdech Vibol Sena Pheakdei Say Chhum [President of the Senate] to educate Noy Sron,” the letter read.

According to Sar Kheng’s letter, Mondulkiri Provincial Hall deputy chief of administration Sok Sera was asked by the Ministry of Interior to simplify his duties by returning to work at the Ministry of Interior.

Sera told The Post: “I moved back to the Ministry of Interior because of some problems.”

O’Raing district governor Seak Mony was asked to provide more education.

Poeb Pe, Sre Preah commune chief in Keo Seima district, Thvan Trel, Sen Monorom commune chief in O’Raing district, and But Sam El, Sre Khtum commune chief in Keo Seima district, were requested by the Ministry of Interior to impose greater disciplinary action under the law on commune administration.

According to Sar Kheng’s letter, names of other officials have been sent to Prime Minister Hun Sen to review.

Kroeung Tola, a forestry activist in Mondulkiri, insisted to change some senior official of the Mondulkiri provincial administration. He claims that when senior provincial officials have a bad reputation related to such crimes, the people will no longer support them and the leadership will be ineffective.

“Deforestation and encroachment on state land in Mondulkiri province could not have taken place without the involvement of the provincial leadership. If we leave officials to continue to do so they will not be able to change their habits. Therefore, only change can preserve the forest and natural resources in Mondulkiri province,” Tola said.

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