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Emphasise justice instead of public displays of destruction

Dear Editor,
On 20 January 2010, a local newspaper reported the crushing of 1,357 chainsaws that had been used for illegal logging and seized in Kratie. This is not the first time implements seized after a crime were destroyed in publicised events. There have been many instances whereby tools used for criminal activities, including fishing gear (ie, nets, wood, bamboo, batteries) and machinery have been crushed or burned. I cannot comprehend why it is necessary to destroy these items, which are harmless in and of themselves and hold commercial resale value. It is their incorrect usage that is harmful and must be controlled.

In my view, instead of destroying such implements, we can exploit them for legal and productive purposes so long as proper “control systems” are in place. Destroying harmless and useful items is not constructive. First, we destroy instruments that could be utilised lawfully and productively, or could be sold and the revenues used to support the poorly paid law enforcement officers involved. Second, it costs money to destroy them irrespective of the damage done to the environment as a result of their destruction.

What is the rationale behind such destruction? Does it serve as a warning that those items are illegal? If it is so, why does the government allow their importation in the first place? Is it to inform the public of the government’s performance and tough stance on crime? If so, a better way is to illustrate that perpetrators are brought to justice. Is it to prevent these tools from being used again for illegal gains? If so, it is not a proactive solution.

Chenda Keo
Australia National University

Send letters to: or PO?Box 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length.
The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.



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