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

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • First ‘mobile kitchen’ in Cambodia enters service

    A catering company recently rolled out Cambodia’s first “mobile kitchen” – a $50,000 container capable of serving up to 200 people at a time. The kitchen is the brainchild of Seng Hok Heng Catering Services. At 4.4m-high, 6.8m-long and 2.4m-wide (expandable to 6.8m), the kitchen is equipped

  • Kingdom, China rebut basis for US sanctions

    The Council for the Development of Cambodia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Tianjin Union Investment Development Group Co Ltd (Tianjin) have responded to US sanctions on Union Development Group Co Ltd (UDG), a Chinese-owned company currently developing the sprawling $3.8 billion Dara

  • ‘Bad news is an investor’s best friend’ – unlocking investment potential in Cambodia

    It is time to shop. Economic woes provide good pickings for investors if they know where to look The poem If, written by English Nobel laureate poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling for his son circa 1895, is widely perceived as fatherly advice for John who would

  • PM requests Russia’s Covid vaccine

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that Russia provide Cambodia with its Covid-19 vaccine after the former announced it planned on mass vaccinating its population next month. The request came on Thursday through the prime minister’s Facebook page as he met with Anatoly Borovik,

  • Influenza breaks out in eight provinces

    Nearly 600 people have been infected with influenza in eight provinces in the past month, Ministry of Health spokesperson Or Vandine said. The ministry is advising extreme caution. A report released by Vandine on Saturday said the Ministry of Health observed transmissions of influenza between August 15