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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PM gives ministers an 'F', lashes out at illegal logging task force

Prime Minister Hun Sen cuts a ribbon during the inauguration ceremony of the new Ministry of Environment building in central Phnom Penh yesterday. Photo supplied
Prime Minister Hun Sen cuts a ribbon during the inauguration ceremony of the new Ministry of Environment building in central Phnom Penh yesterday. Photo supplied

PM gives ministers an 'F', lashes out at illegal logging task force

Prime Minister Hun Sen unleashed a tirade against underperforming government officials in a pair of speeches yesterday – musing aloud about reshuffling his Council of Ministers and wondering why rockets had not yet been deployed in the Kingdom’s recent “crackdown” on illegal logging.

Speaking at the grand opening of the Ministry of Environment’s new headquarters, the premier singled out the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation, saying their performances rated an “F”.

“I say that the slowest ministry is the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation. Their work is supposed to be the fastest, but it became the slowest,” Hun Sen said. “It seems that this ministry does not work. How can I tolerate you when you are so slow?”

The ministry has been lax in cracking down on transportation companies that violate the law, slow at issuing plates and driver’s licences and generally ineffective at its other duties, he added, before turning his attention to the Ministry of Agriculture.

“Now I speak frankly – you, [Minister of Agriculture Ouk Rabun] get an F. You are too slow.”

Rabun unsurprisingly yesterday pledged to step up his efforts to improve the ministry’s performance.

“It is an honour that Samdech Techo [two of the prime minister’s many honorifics] recommended this personally, and we will do our best to become more active.”

Public Works spokesman Ma Senghuot also promised to take action to solve problems faster “based on the prime minister’s recommendation”.

Kem Ley, a social researcher and grassroots political activist, welcomed the news, saying that the ministries need fresh faces and a new, transparent culture.

The premier also blasted the Ministry of Justice and law enforcement officials for the unabated wave of violent crime and recidivism throughout the country, saying he would order police and armed forces to better control their weapons, which keep ending up in the hands of criminals.

He went on to complain that “the same faces” keep coming up in robbery and drug-trafficking arrests, a topic he previously railed on in a December speech, which prompted the Justice Ministry at the time to pledge to keep those guilty of “serious” offences ineligible for pardons.

“The Ministry of Justice has to undertake serious work on this issue, and the prison directors must keep track of whether the [prisoners] have been charged yet and why they are released so easily,” Hun Sen said yesterday.

He added that from now on, any applications for royal pardons must contain a detailed list of the prisoners’ convictions, something that doesn’t currently happen.

Earlier in the day, speaking at the Ministry of Environment, the prime minister took aim at the anti-logging commission created last month – a body decried by some activists as simply providing cover for a reshuffling of the Kingdom’s expansive illegal timber trade – saying they should be more aggressive in their pursuit of loggers.

He then offered a helpful tip to committee director Sao Sokha, saying he should blast timber traders with rockets from a helicopter.

“I gave two helicopters to Sao Sokha, who has not taken a single shot,” Hun Sen complained. “Take the shot from above – it is not that complex.”

Committee spokesman Eng Hy said that there had been no reason to fire rockets to date, as no loggers have shot at the authorities during the latest crackdowns.

(In fact, former Mondulkiri military police officer Sou Marith was accused of firing on authorities earlier this month after they chased a car carrying timber to his home, but escaped while authorities awaited a warrant.)

Hy added that forestry crimes have decreased since the formation of the committee.

Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay yesterday said that the premier’s tough talk on the issue does not change the fact that the government has been sheltering some of the biggest loggers in the country.

Additional reporting by Igor Kossov

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savath.pou's picture

I have written on my Facebook page on many occasions that public support the CNRP had enjoyed in the July 2013 general elections had nothing to do with the Opposition’s strategies or policies. It’s just the reflection of general discontent the public wanted to yell loud and clear against the stubbornness as well as the arrogance the CPP-led government has been digging its heels in vis-à-vis allegations about its shortcomings from one legislative mandate to the next since the first democratic election supervised by UNTAC in May 1993. Those allegations are as follows:

1 - Corruption
2 - Abuse of power
3 - Misappropriation of State as well as private properties and destruction of natural resources
4 - Inept judicial system
5 - Unreasonably low wages capped for too long for public and private employees
6 - Retention of inactive and inept high ranking officials on government payroll
7 - Archaic and inefficient education and health systems
8 - Negligence or total lack of political will on the handling of social problems
9 - Repetitive political platforms based merely on the liberation of Cambodia from the murderous Pol Pot regime on January 7, 1979 and
10 - Absence of clear and decisive policy towards Vietnam and illegal Vietnamese immigrants.

The Cambodian people had then spoken. And now that local and general elections are looming, the CPP-led Government has to choose either one of the following:

1 - Addressing swiftly the above-mentioned 10 point shortcomings and survive and
2 - Arrogantly keeping the status quo and face the imminent death in the near future.

Dear the honorable Prime Minster, it’s now undeniably clear that the choice is yours and yours alone because it’s quite apparent that none of your Cabinet ministers, and I repeat NONE of them, seem to care much about your defeat which would be imminent if you kept on clinging to them and resisted changes by the process.

Phnom Penh, 26 February 2016.
Savath Pou,
Senator expelled.

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