Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday ordered a high-ranking government official and local authorities to investigate land reclamation allegedly implicating an army officer in Koh Kong province.
Speaking at an opening of the Sea Festival in Kampot province on Saturday, Mr Hun Sen ordered Land Management Minister and chairman of the National Authority for Land Dispute Resolution Chea Sophara and Koh Kong governor Mithona Phouthorng to look into a land reclamation allegedly conducted by a high-ranking official.
Mr Hun Sen did not mention the official’s name.
“In Koh Kong, I heard the land was illegally filled into a stretch of the sea. I order Chea Sophara and the Koh Kong governor to investigate immediately whether or not it is true,” he said. “I heard a high-ranking officer of the Royal Cambodian Armed forces is involved.”
Mr Hun Sen warned that if the RCAF officer is found to have been implicated in land reclamation, he would be booted out.
“If authorities find that the army officer is involved, I no longer allow him to work in the army,” he said, noting that local authorities should stymie all illegal landfilling.
“We cannot allow our beaches destroyed by polluted water or a stretch of the sea being landfilled,” he said.
The order came after Pich Sros, president of Cambodian youth party and a member of Supreme Consultative Council, said that he would quit the job if the government failed to work on the case of land reclamation by Major General Tun Deat.
Last week, Mr Sros investigated Maj Gen Deat who is suspected of filling land onto a stretch of sea in Khemarak Phoumint city.
Land Ministry spokesman Seng Lot yesterday said that the ministry is looking into the case.
“We accept the prime minister’s order and [Mr Sophara] is working on that,” Mr Lot said and then declined to comment further.
Ms Mithona yesterday said that local authorities are awaiting the provincial court’s decision since December 3 to see how the case could be handled.
“The authorities are waiting to execute the court’s decision,” she said. “We, authorities, cannot support illegal activities.”
Koh Kong court officials were unavailable for comment yesterday.
Mr Sros yesterday hailed Mr Hun Sen’s order, saying the case will be settled.
“I applaud the prime minister for ordering a probe into landfilling,” he said. “If there is no order by the prime minister, Tun Deat will take all the land.”
He said that he will submit reports to Mr Hun Sen and Defence Minister General Tea Banh on December 27 during the SCC’s meeting.
Maj Gen Deat yesterday said that he is eager to see the court’s decision.
“Now the authorities are working so I am eager to see the result. I respect the law if they say that I am wrong I will accept it,” Maj Gen Deat said.
Am Sam Ath, monitoring manager with rights group Licadho, yesterday said that Mr Hun Sen’s order seems to take effect for just a short while.
“It is good but we see that his order or recommendation will become effective for a while,” Mr Sam Ath said. “To become effective in the long run, everyone should abide by the law and no one should be above the law.”