Hun Sen scoffs at power shortage conspiracy theory

Ben Sokhean / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Prime Minister Hun Sen says theories of the government cutting power to push for the Stung Cheay Areng hydropower dam are false. KT/Tep Sony

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday denied baseless accusations that the government is purposely cutting off power to people in order to form an excuse to move forward with the controversial Stung Cheay Areng hydropower dam.

On Saturday, Radio Free Asia reported that residents and environmental activists suspect that the government has been reducing the power supply so it can have an excuse to build the dam in Koh Kong province.

Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson, founder of NGO Mother Nature, said in the broadcast that the government must be responsible for the power shortage.

“There are two or three weeks of electricity being cut and it is expected to last two more months,” Mr Gonzales-Davidson said. “Why has no one resigned from their [government] position? Why has no one apologised to the people?”

The Kingdom is currently facing a power shortage, which the government has blamed on a hot spell of weather affecting the output of power from hydropower dams.

Speaking during an inauguration ceremony for the opening of a water system in Kampot province yesterday, Mr Hun Sen said the government stopped considering building the Stung Cheay Areng dam in 2015.

“A lack of electricity supply is not a reason to build a hydropower dam. They accuse us of pretending to have a shortage of power so that we can build a hydropower dam,” Mr Hun Sen said. “The criticism was extreme and unjust. Why don’t you justly look at us and refrain from considering everything as bad.”

The project of Stung Cheay Areng hydropower dam in Koh Kong province ceased in 2015 after environmental concerns were raised by local residents.

Mr Hun Sen said those who accused the government of being behind the shortage of electricity in order to restart the dam’s project were lying.

“If they said this, then please cut off the power supply to their homes,” Mr Hun Sen said. “You look at Hun Sen as doing everything that’s bad. I didn’t want to say this, but they keep analysing like this.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen blasts conspiracy theorists. KT/Khem Sovannara

He added that the ongoing electricity shortage in the Kingdom is because of nature. He said Cambodia has been facing shortages of water and electricity since February.

Kin Phea, director general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, yesterday said Mr Hun Sen’s speech was a message to his critics.

“[Critics] should consider the facts rather than be driven by political motivation,” Mr Phea said. “I don’t think the government would start the Stung Cheay Areng hydropower dam project, but some people are extremists.”

“They are doing this to insult and blame the government,” he added. “Does the government want power shortage? No, it doesn’t. The cause of the shortage is climate change.”

Government spokesman Phay Siphan yesterday said the government rejects what critics said on RFA.

“They are creating fake information to cause confusion in the government and public chaos,” Mr Siphan said, noting that the government is working hard to solve the shortage of electricity.

He noted that the government is not considering restarting the Stung Cheay Areng hydropower dam project.

Electricité du Cambodge last month said it has reduced the supply of electricity in the Kingdom during the day in order to ensure supply at night.

“We are still lacking 13 percent of energy,” EDC said. “Because of this, the EDC has reduced the supply of electricity until the rain season comes.”

According to the Mines and Energy Ministry, Cambodia produced 2,650 megawatts of electricity last year, of which 1,329 megawatts, or 50 percent, came from hydroelectric dams.

Last week, the government said a 200-megawatt floating power plant will be brought to Phnom Penh from Turkey as a wider strategy to enhance and diversify power supply through investments in energy projects.

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