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PM issues stern warning to corrupt officials

Ben Sokhean / Khmer Times Share:
ACU officials escorted accused police officers to Phnom Penh municipal court. Fresh News

Prime Minister Hun Sen has warned of termination and the seizure of properties from armed forces members and government officials found to be involved in corruption, illegal logging or land grabs.

The warning comes days after Anti-Corruption Unit officials, led by its chairman Om Yentieng, arrested the Pursat provincial land management department director, and two of his subordinates for allegedly seeking bribes to approve a construction  project.

Speaking during the Council of Ministers meeting held at the Peace Palace on Friday, Mr Hun Sen said corruption is an act that destroys the nation and achievements made by the government.

A statement issued after the meeting, said the prime minister had pointed out that the government’s implementation of its fifth approach against corrupt officials is necessary.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen is committed to strictly implement the fifth approach, a ‘surgical’ way to get rid of corrupt officials, and warned of dismissal and the seizure of properties of those in the government and armed forces who use their positions to steal state properties, conduct illegal logging and grab state land,” the statement said. “They must face the law.”

Government spokesman Phay Siphan yesterday said that the recent arrest of Liem Bunroeun, Pursat provincial land management department director, and his subordinates over corruption and the crackdown against a network of illegal logging linked to the case of well-known timber tycoon Soeng Sam Ol are examples of the fifth approach.

“The strong action by the Anti-Corruption Unit and the strict implementation of the law made by the National Committee for Forest Crime Prevention reflects this effort by the government,” Mr Siphan said. “The people have welcomed the actions, and strongly support the government’s work.”

Last month, authorities arrested and charged Mr Sam Ol and his accomplices over large-scale illegal logging in Mondulkiri province. Three Chinese nationals were also charged for allegedly being linked to the tycoon, while environment department, forestry administration and agriculture officials in the province are being investigated over possible collaboration with Mr Sam Ol.

“Samdech Techo Hun Sen’s remarks are a message to [corrupt officials] that they must be careful,” Mr Siphan said. “It is time to implement the fifth ‘surgery’ approach. Previously we used the education approach but now we will act against them in accordance with the law.”

San Chey, executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, yesterday said that Mr Hun Sen’s remarks was a normal implementation of the law against wrongdoers.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen is just reminding his officials to strictly implement the law,” he said. “I think if there are no double standards in implementing the rule of law, there won’t be rogue officials who mistreat people or take bribes.”

During the meeting on Friday, Mr Hun Sen also encouraged all relevant stakeholders to recycle existing local waste to provide additional electricity. However, he noted that imported waste is banned.

He was responding to the recent seizures of containers with 1,600 tonnes of plastic waste, which officials said came from the United States and Canada.

Last month, the General Department of Customs and Excise seized the 83 containers and ordered the importer, Chungyuen Plastic Manufacturers, to return the waste to their countries of origin and fined it more than $250,000.

“Cambodia will not allow the import of waste from abroad for recycling in order to produce electricity in the Kingdom,” Mr Hun Sen stressed on Friday.

He noted that the move will help to protect the environment and reduce the amount of waste thrown into dumpsites, especially in Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville.

According to a recent report of the Environment Ministry, the amount of rubbish produced in the country surges by about 10 percent annually due to population growth, lifestyle changes and a lack of understanding on how to sort waste.

It noted that on a daily basis, Phnom Pen alone collects about 3,000 tonnes of trash and Sihanoukville collects 600 tonnes.

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