Apparent CPP Commune Chief-elect Chhay Thy yesterday pledged to tackle ongoing forestry crimes in Ratanakkiri’s Pate commune – a cause he strongly advocated for during his tenure as a human rights staffer at Adhoc.
After a surprise defection to the ruling party earlier this year, unofficial preliminary votes show Thy won a narrow victory in Pate on Sunday, surpassing the Grassroots Democracy Party by a mere 20 votes, according to the National Election Committee.
Even during the hotly contested campaign for the commune, Post reporters there found dozens of logs of first-grade sokrom timber hidden among forested areas surrounding the commune’s farmlands.
At the time, a villager said the logs were kept there until they could be transported to Vietnam, where they fetched $500 per cubic metre.
Yesterday, Thy said he was happy with his victory, and while acknowledging there was illegal logging in the commune, he said it wasn’t a rampant problem.
“We will not let any individual do what they want. We believe that the logging is done individually by the locals,” he said.
Thy also blamed weak enforcement by his predecessors for not addressing the issue by informing locals it was against the law to do so.
His opponent from the CNRP, Rmam Kham Phorn, claimed that the logging was taking place in a disputed community forest and that villagers from Kong Thom village, where he resided, had seized logs from the nearby Kong Yu village earlier this year.