Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kheng addresses illegal fishing before elections

Kheng addresses illegal fishing before elections

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Interior Minister Sar Kheng chairs a meeting yesterday in Phnom Penh regarding an ongoing nationwide illegal fishing crackdown, Photo Supplied

Kheng addresses illegal fishing before elections

Interior Minister Sar Kheng yesterday called on authorities to ramp up a crackdown on illegal fishing ahead of upcoming commune elections, prompting one fisheries activist to question whether the action would continue after it ceased to be politically expedient.

In his remarks, given at a meeting at the Ministry of Interior, Kheng appeared to link success in the nationwide campaign to victory for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party at the ballot box in June.

“If the situation to handle fishing crimes is not good, more or less, it will impact the election; therefore we need to have a mission to handle the problem,” Kheng said.

“From today until the election period, there are only 47 days . . . therefore [we] we need to rally” to solve the problem, he added.

Also speaking at yesterday’s meeting, National Police chief Neth Savoeun said that he was not satisfied with the uneven results of the crackdown, which started in December. While some areas around the Tonle Sap showed decreases in illegal fishing, he said, the problem had persisted or increased in others.

Savoeun argued that the push would not prove successful until the “masterminds” behind illegal fishing in the Tonle Sap are brought to justice. Meanwhile, officials who are “involved with [the] perpetrators, they will be punished in compliance with the law”, he added.

Between December 8 and April 17, more than 700 raids were undertaken against illegal fishermen, though only 30 were sent to court, according to statistics presented at yesterday’s meeting.

Youk Senglong, the deputy executive director of Fisheries Action Coalition Team, said that anecdotal evidence suggested the crackdown was having a positive effect, but questioned whether the Interior Ministry’s commitment will carry on after the commune elections. However, he added, it was “better to wait until after the election to see” if the crackdown continues apace.

The small number of prosecutions, on the other hand, could prove a political liability, Senglong said.

“There is a connection with popularity. [Authorities think] if they send many people to court, they might mobilise many people not to vote for the CPP,” he said. However, he said, rather than an aggressive stance, it would be the lack of concrete action that hurt the ruling party in the eyes of the law-abiding public.

“The majority of the public don’t commit crimes,” he said.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all