Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered that the relevant ministries and local authorities take action to prevent forest encroachment and land grabs, saying that these activities always increased during the campaign period and the day of elections.
He issued the instructions while presiding over the formal inauguration of a new facility of Royal Academy for Justice of Cambodia and graduation ceremony of student judges, clerks, bailiffs and notaries in the capital’s Chroy Changvar district on Tuesday.
“As soon as the campaign season arrives, there is a jump in land grabs and encroachments on state land.
“I am aware that some forest areas in Pursat province have been cleared, and I have also been informed of land grabs in some other parts of the Kingdom.
“If we take action, some people will attempt to use photographs of these crimes against us in the election,” he said.
“I order these activities be stopped, regardless of who is committing them, and whether they are rich or poor.
“This is state land. The forests belong to the nation and cannot be logged arbitrarily. The government is obliged to protect order, and defend our natural resources and forests,” he added.
Hun Sen said whenever such crimes were cracked down on, the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) was accused of unjustly governing the country.
“We realise who is behind these accusations, but also accept that sometimes, some powerful people hire people to log the forests and they used the names of those hired loggers as a shield,” he said.
He also said he has heard that when the state makes concessions and grants plots of land to people, it is sometimes the wealthy who receive the land.
“This cannot be allowed to happen. If officials are involved in these matters, please don’t blame me. I will not allow anyone who conducts themselves in this manner to remain in the state employment. This includes unscrupulous court officials,” he added.
Heng Kimhong, research and advocacy programme manager at the Cambodian Youth Network (CYN), said he welcomed the prime minister’s orders
He requested that actions be taken against any local officials who allowed opportunists to log forests or occupy state land, warning that failure to do so could lead to the depletion of the kingdom’s precious natural resources. — The Phnom Penh Post/ANN