SIEM REAP PROVINCE
ABOUT 320 villagers from a fishing community in Siem Reap province’s Puok district filed a complaint to the district governor on Wednesday, accusing a Keo Poa commune councillor and a fishing community leader of exhibiting bias and extorting money in the enforcement of fishing laws.
The complaint contends that commune councillor Vey Oeuth and fishing community leader Nith Sakhan allowed five unknown men to illegally fish in a 4-kilometre pond reserved for spawning.
It also states that two other fishermen were forced to pay a US$95 bribe to the two officials in April after being caught fishing illegally in a similar spawning pond.
“We want them to be punished according to the law and to be removed from their posts,” said Mik Chantho, a signatory to the complaint.
Mik Chantra, another signatory, said that on May 21, he and several other villagers had confronted five men who were fishing in the pond. The men told them that they had been given permission by Nith Sakhan and Vey Oeuth, who later intervened and released the men without a fine or warning.
Vey Oeuth denied the allegations Thursday, saying that his accusers “frequently” fish illegally in off-limits areas. “I will sue them for defamation if I am not wrong,” he said.
Puok district Governor Pech Sokhalay said district officials would investigate the case and report their findings to fisheries officials, but added that he doubted the two accused men were at fault.