Some Siem Reap residents have criticised governor Khim Bun Song’s decision to use large amounts of wood to build platforms along the river for next month’s annual water festival.
On September 29, authorities said, “Siem Reap Provincial Hall needs 150 cubic meters of wood to build three platforms for the water festival. The Provincial Forestry Administration will handle this task and we allow Om Vattanak, the wood trader, to transport the wood to the town.”
A Siem Reap resident who declined to be named said the governor was helping to denude the forest. “It is too much [wood] for just building three platforms. He [the governor] maybe would like to give the wood trader the chance to clear the forest. We are afraid we will lose our forest,” he said.
Another resident, Ly Bora, said Siem Reap authorities should change their habit of using wood for platforms and use steel instead.
“Using steel to build the platform is safer than using wood. At the same time, the authorities can help save the forest,” he said.
But Deputy Provincial Governor Mao Vuthy said that because Siem Reap only recently decided to celebrate this year’s water festival after a two year cancellation, the government would like to make the ceremony special. “We need the wood to build three big platforms along the river because we would like to make the festival bigger than before and we hope it will worthwhile for local and international visitors,” he said.
In response to the criticism, Vuthy said, “We do not allow the wood trader to do something that abuses the law and we have already informed the Provincial Forestry Administration to work closely on it, so please do not worry.”
Vuthy added that 34 racing boats from various districts and provincial departments will feature during the festival and about a thousand provincial police and military police will be present.