Phnom Penh municipal deputy governor Keut Che told environmentalist youth groups not to misuse environmental forums for political purposes and to work professionally and in cooperation with relevant authorities on environmental issues and rubbish clean-up in the capital.

Municipal deputy governor Keut Che said this at a press conference on the “progress of communes and the direction of Phnom Penh” at the Office of the Council of Ministers on March 1.

He said that the municipal administration had already confirmed to him that waste collection service was no longer backed-up or delayed in the capital.

He then suggested that people use the social accountability system to report problems to the authorities instead of protesting or making critical public statements on the issue.

“If they report it to us and we are not responding, then they can say the social accountability system is not working. But if we do respond, that means the system is working. So I ask all environmentalist youths to work in a professional manner by cooperating with the authorities through the social accountability system so that we can all work together.”

Che also brought up the issue of rubbish disposal into the city’s canals causing its blockage, suggesting that the environmentalist youth groups could help the authorities prevent the problem by reporting anyone they see illegally dumping rubbish into the canals.

“We ask where the source of the rubbish comes from? It comes from those who throw it away irresponsibly and those who do not respect the law. Please report to the authorities if you see people throwing rubbish into the canals. If you know them or their family or if you have a photo of them, send to the authorities for them to identify those people and levy fines. If we can do that, we can eliminate it,” he said.

Phnom Penh deputy governor Keuot Che speaks during a press conference at the Office of the Council of Ministers on Tuesday. Heng Chivoan

Che said that in some cases, environmentalist youth groups saw the rubbish and did not alert the authorities, but instead posted pictures of it along with critical statements on social media. That was not the correct way to go about solving the problem, he said.

“The environmentalist youths should work with the authorities as closely as possible, especially with the local authorities. If they are busy and do not respond, you can send a letter or have the discussion with the municipal administration.

“I will be happy to work with you so that we can improve the environment together. I also urge all environmentalist youths to work professionally by sticking to the issue at hand and not use it for any other [political] purpose, I would only request that,” he said.

Environmental activist Phoun Keo Raksmey confirmed to The Post on March 2 that she had submitted a letter on behalf of a group of about 70 young people and local residents who were requesting that the city do something about the rubbish congesting the canals in the districts of Meanchey, Russey Keo and Chamkarmon.

“Our goal is to see the rubbish congestion issue solved in these places. We also hope the municipal authorities study the root causes of it and implement effective policies to deal with it,” the 20-year-old activist said.

“We also hope that the Phnom Penh authorities will work to prevent further congestion in the sewers.”