Mondulkiri provincial Governor Svay Sam Eang led a taskforce to inspect private companies operating nearby protected forests on Sunday in the wake of being criticised by Interior Minister Sar Kheng for failing to curb illegal logging.
Song Kheang, provincial agriculture department director, said Mr Sam Eang was joined by the provincial police chief, the provincial military police commander and other provincial officials.
“The governor led forces to review the activities of some companies on Sunday,” Mr Kheang said. “We went down there, but we did not find any crimes.”
Mr Sam Eang and provincial police chief Lor Sokha could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Last month, Mr Kheng ordered provincial officials to curb forestry crimes in their respective jurisdictions, attributing a lack of law enforcement against forestry crimes in the province to Mr Sam Eang.
He said that Mr Sam Eang should pay more attention to the destruction of forests in the province.
“Forestry crimes still occur in Mondulkiri,” Mr Kheng said. “If the governor does not crack down on forestry crimes, then we will have a problem.”
Two days later, Mr Sam Eang responded and said that measures have already been taken to ensure 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 at the time that provincial authorities are constantly updating the Interior Ministry on the progress of cracking down on forestry crimes.
During his trip to New York over the weekend, Prime Minister Hun Sen accused villagers and supporters of the now-defunct opposition party of cutting down trees and encroaching on protected forests.
During a meet with Cambodians living overseas, Mr Hun Sen said that suspected forestry offenders should be shot from a helicopter.
“It’s correct that we are losing our forests, many are being replaced by rubber plantations. I acknowledge that thieves have illegally cut down timber and I am ordering them to be shot from helicopters in the sky,” he said.
“In many cases [the thieves] went to cut down millions of hectares to cultivate farmlands, including groups [affiliated] with the former opposition,” he added.