Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Officials inspect forest that was filled in, sold

Officials inspect forest that was filled in, sold

Koh Kong provincial authorities on Friday inspect a section of a protected mangrove forest in Koh Kong after being ordered to do so by Prime Minister Hun Sen. Photo supplied
Koh Kong provincial authorities on Friday inspect a section of a protected mangrove forest in Koh Kong after being ordered to do so by Prime Minister Hun Sen. Photo supplied

Officials inspect forest that was filled in, sold

On the orders of Prime Minister Hun Sen, Koh Kong provincial authorities on Friday inspected a section of protected mangrove forest that in December was discovered to have been filled in with sand and illegally sold, with the consent of local authorities, to tycoon Chea Leanghong.

The premier, during the closing of a national conference on decentralisation on Thursday, said he became aware of the issue through local media reports.

That same day, The Post had published an article revealing Leanghong had bought the land last March, after authorities had claimed over the prior two months they were unaware of who was behind the illegal activities.

“Koh Kong province must have a problem,” Hun Sen said. “Who allowed . . . this?”

The premier singled out Environment Minister Say Sam Al and Land Management Minister Chea Sophara, ordering them to investigate with local authorities, including Koh Kong Governor Mithona Phouthorng.

Kay Krong, chief of Stung Veng commune, yesterday confirmed that the person behind the land in question is Leanghong, although he had previously claimed he was unsure who was operating in the area. The land is within a “community zone” inside Peam Krasaop Wildlife Sanctuary, where villagers are allowed to live and cultivate crops.

Krong said Koh Kong Deputy Governor Orn Phearak, who led Friday’s inspection, had asked the land owner to appear to answer questions and also asked for any available documents pertaining to the sale.

Louk Sovanna, the wife of Leanghong, has declined to respond to questions since being provided on Thursday with a copy of a sale contract for the land, showing her husband’s name as the buyer.

Phouthorng said provincial authorities had already sent a report to the Environment Ministry to take action.

Sam Al declined to comment.

Seng Sokheng, with the Community Peace Building Network, said officials should not just respond on a case-by-case when ordered to take action from the national level. Even with the intervention on the 2-hectare plot of land, Sokheng said he doesn’t foresee a change.

“If that case belongs to a tycoon, maybe the Ministry of Environment can’t stop it,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • No payment required for travellers taking rapid Covid tests on arrival

    Ministry of Health officials said there would be no payment required for the rapid Covid-19 tests given to travellers who arrive in Cambodia from November 15 onwards after the quarantine requirement is lifted for fully vaccinated people. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine told The Post on

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Police arrest Canadian with 167kg of drugs

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on November 15 placed a Canadian national in pre-trial detention in connection with smuggling and possessing 167kg of illegal drugs. Deputy National Police chief in charge of anti-drug enforcement Mak Chito told The Post on November 15 that the man was arrested