Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Sunday attributed a lack of law enforcement against forestry crimes in Mondulkiri province to its Governor Svay Sam Eang.
Mr Kheng said that Mr Sam Eang should pay more attention to the destruction of forests in the province.
“Forestry crimes still occur in Mondulkiri,” he said. “If the governor does not crack down on forestry crimes, then we will have a problem.”
Mr Sam Eang could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Song Kheang, director of the provincial agriculture department, declined to comment.
Ouch Leng, an environmental activist, said yesterday that forestry crimes also happen in other provinces.
“Forestry crimes have increased this year when compared to previous years because smugglers are not afraid. Some tycoons export logs to other countries and use the money to bribe the authorities so logs can be smuggled,” Mr Leng said. “I think that this system is the reason why forestry crimes still occur.”
“I support Minister Sar Kheng, but I am not happy about the crimes,” he added. “I feel hopeless because cases still occur.”
Last year, high-ranking Mondulkiri officials were accused of cooperating with Vietnamese loggers to smuggle logs out of the province.
Among the high-ranking officials currently being investigated are deputy provincial Governor Choeng Sok Chantha and Brigadier General Sak Sarang, former commander of the provincial military police.
They were questioned by Phnom Penh Municipal Court, but were released and the court has yet to name a single suspect.
In August, Brig Gen Sarang was transferred to Kampong Chhnang province following the allegations made against him.
“More than ten people are involved in this case,” said Ngin Pech, deputy court prosecutor, at the time of Brig Gen Sarang’s questioning.
In a National Police report in February, the officials implicated in forestry crimes in Mondulkiri were accused of accepting bribes ranging from $20,000 to $100,000 to turn a blind eye to illegal logging.
A separate report by the National Committee for National Resource Crime Protection and Prevention said a total of 13 military police and provincial police officials from multiple jurisdictions had been careless in their duties.
National Police chief General Neth Savoeun told Mr Kheng to take action against all officials implicated in the reports.