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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PMs leading clean-up campaign

PMs leading clean-up campaign

T HE two Prime Ministers will lend a hand to spruce up the capital in the first ever "Phnom Penh Clean-Up Day" on Dec 23.

Ly Thuch, Undersecretary of State for the Ministry of Environment, said he hoped many other Phnom Penh residents would pitch in to help clean up their town.

Staff at government ministries would clean up their premises, while school students and householders could do the same with theirs.

Afterward, participants were welcome at the National Olympic Stadium for refreshments and an art performance.

He said the day was the brainchild of First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who, along with Second Prime Minister Hun Sen, would be leading by example.

The ministry would also conduct a campaign to educate people to keep their city clean.

"People always say why is Phnom Penh ugly, polluted and littered...but actually the owner of the litter is the people," Ly Thuch said.

He hoped to raise funds from companies and foreign embassies to support the campaign by paying for t-shirts, hats, banners, drinks for participants and to run children's drawing competitions.

Ly Thuch hoped the campaign could be run every three months. The priority was to impress international guests but also to improve specific areas like the garbage dump in Stung Mean Chay.

He said he had also asked Asia Pacific Development, a French company contracted to collect garbage, to do a more effective job than they were doing.

Ly Thuch, who recently attended a two-day environmental seminar in Bangkok, said Cambodia also faced big problems such as deforestation.

In the 1970s, about 70 per cent of Cambodia's land had been covered with forests but now, after two decades of war, only about 40 per cent was.

"That makes us extremely worried about the environment...we need to protect our environment urgently".

He said a new environmental law, to come into effect early next year, would aim to preserve forests and animals.

The ministry also planned to host an international "Environment Round Table Conference" in Phnom Penh in April.

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