I NDONESIAN environmentalists have seized on King Norodom Sihanouk's state visit
to urge him to tell the Cambodian government to "act thoughtfully" before
granting a logging contract to the Panin Group.
In an open letter to the
King, the Jakarta-based NGO "forest network" Skephi said Panin was awaiting
approval for a logging concession of 1.5 million hectares in
"According to Djamaluddin Suryohadikusumo, the Indonesian
Minister of Forestry, Panin has been unknown in forestry activity in Indonesia
," the letter said.
Skephi, through coordinator Indro Ijahjono, said that
a thorough and transparent study had to be made of the records of such investing
The group was not against logging and mining, but such
activities had to be done sustainably and without damaging the environment, it
Nor was the group against Cambodian efforts to rebuild itself. "We
are expressing this because our own country, once harboring the second largest
forest area in the world after Brazil, has only recently been able to learn from
its disasterous forestry in the past," Ijahjono wrote.
The group stated
that only one in five logging companies in Indonesia pursued their activities in
accordance with strict governmental forestry rules.
It also said that the
Indonesian Ministry of Forstry recently appealed to all Indonesian companies not
to invest in countries - like Cambodia - that had no professional or established
record in sustainable forestry.
"Irresponsible forestry practices will
not only destroy 'the lungs of the world' as stated repeatedly by our head of
state President Suharto, but could also smear the good intentions pursued by our
country, as now in the case of Surinam.
"It is our belief that logging
investment in your country could be workable, provided that the investment and
its further activity be directed according to the principles of sustainability
and be fully transparent.
"... it is our intention, with the cooperation
of the Indonesian Forestry Ministry, to provide your government with information
in these aspects."
A copy of the letter was also sent to Co-Prime
Ministers Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Hun Sen.
Following on from the story in the Phnom Penh Post of August 25, Agriculture
and Forestry MInister Tao Seng Huor says that the contract with the Panin Group
is not yet finalized, but is under discussion.