he articles published in the Phnom Penh Post on September 20, l996 and in the
Nation on September 26 1996 reproduced new accusations emanating from Global Witness
and which call for again a certain number of clarifications.
On April 10, l996 I asked you to publish a communiqué in the Phnom Penh Post
which re-established the truth on the problem of exporting, by private Thai companies,
cut wood before April 30, l995. As I indicated to you, I met His Excellency Chavalit
Yongchaiyuth, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Defense of the Royal Thai Government,
on Jan 18, l996 and then on May 13.
These meetings were held for the sole purpose of finalising the conditions for implementing
the control mechanisms for the export of wood before April 30, l996 and to reinforce
the lines of cooperation with regard to stopping anarchistic cutting and the illegal
export of wood on the Cambodian-Thai border.
Contrary to assertions reproduced in your respective articles not one contract was
signed between His Excellency Chavalit and myself. His Excellency Chavalit, moreover,
has never acted as a representative of Thai companies.
At the same time the two Prime Ministers of the Royal Cambodian Government have never
negotiated nor signed any contract whatsoever with His Excellency Chavalit.
As I have already written you on April 10, l996 the two Prime Ministers have given
exclusively, at the national level, their agreement in principle to requests, presented
by Thai companies, to export wood cut before April 30, l995. The conditions and the
controls were defined in the joint communiqué of June 19, l996 of the Ministry
of Economy and Finance and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
This agreement in principle was not a contract.
The Thai companies which have complied with the obligations cited in the communiqué
and which are imposed on them, could sign at the national level contracts authorizing
them to export. At the moment of exportation a double control is again effectuated,
one in Cambodia and the other in Thailand.
Moreover I add again that should it happen that new wood is cut in spite of the existing
controls, the wood would be seized.
Criticism is easy especially when it is not well-founded. It would be interesting
to know the real motives which push Global Witness to so accuse the Royal Government
of Cambodia and that of Thailand. Rather than systematically denigrating the two
governments Global Witness could more usefully propose practical and constructive
measures to reinforce the forestry policies adopted by the Government.
It is regrettable that, once again, your newspaper echoes some false accusations
against the Royal Government of Cambodia.
- Office of Tao Seng Hour, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries,
(Unofficial translation from French)