Mondulkiri provincial Governor Svay Sam Eang has responded to criticism from Interior Minister Sar Kheng who claimed that provincial officials have failed to curb forestry crimes.
Mr Kheng on Sunday attributed a lack of law enforcement against forestry crimes in Mondulkiri province to Mr Sam Eang, noting he 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 yesterday responded and said that measures have already been taken by provincial authorities to ensure that forestry crimes are not committed.
“I would like to say that we took measures a long time ago,” he said. “We will continue to work hard to prevent forestry crimes.”
In August, the Interior Ministry ordered authorities in Ratanakkiri, Mondulkiri and Stung Treng provinces to investigate and intercept all forestry crimes and report back to the ministry.
Mr Sam Eang said that provincial authorities are constantly updating the Interior Ministry on the progress of cracking down on forestry crimes.
“We sent a report on forestry crimes to the ministry about ten days ago,” he said.
Environmental activist Ouch Leng said yesterday that crackdowns would only occur when the issue of illegal logging is published in the media.
Mr Leng said that some provincial officials benefit from illegal loggers who are connected to powerful figures to export logs to neighbouring countries.
“Local officials should strengthen crackdowns on forestry crimes,” Mr Leng added.
He noted that Prime Minister Hun Sen has said in the past that authorities should arrest tycoons and authority figures who are suspected of smuggling illegal logs.
On Monday, he said that forestry crimes are not only rampant in Mondulkiri province, but also 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,” he said. “I think that this system is the reason why forestry crimes still occur.”