Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Global Witness welcomes sand export ban as first step to reform

Global Witness welcomes sand export ban as first step to reform

Global Witness welcomes sand export ban as first step to reform

090514_03b.jpg
090514_03b.jpg

Photo by:

HENG CHIVOAN

A dredging vessel extracting sand from the Tonle Bassac in this file photo.

INTERNATIONAL corruption watchdog Global Witness has welcomed the recent decision by Prime Minister Hun Sen to ban sand exports from the country, calling it a "first move" towards the sustainable management of the country's natural resources.

"Sand dredging is just one example of widespread environmental malpractice," said Global Witness campaigner Eleanor Nichol in a statement released Tuesday.

"This must be the beginning, not the end, of action to counter natural resource mismanagement and exploitation in Cambodia."

Global Witness also called for an end to the "untransparent allocation of onshore oil and mining concessions" and a review of the concessions already existing in the Kingdom.

The comments came three months after Global Witness released its "Country for Sale" report, alleging high-level corruption and nepotism in the country's extractive resources sector.

The report also included information about a large-scale sand-mining operation in Koh Kong province, where thousands of tonnes of sand per week were being extracted from the area and shipped to Singapore by the Hong Kong-based Winton Enterprises.

In a letter dated Friday, Hun Sen announced a blanket ban on sand exports, in order to "protect the stability of the natural environments of both rivers and marine areas".

Pech Siyon, director of the Koh Kong provincial Department of Industry, Mines and Energy, said local authorities had ordered a "temporary" stop to the export of sand.

But he said companies continued to extract sand from the province's coastal estuaries, pending an examination of the operations by a special interministerial committee.

In a statement released April 6, the Cambodian ambassador to the United Kingdom accused Global Witness of engaging in "virulent and malicious campaigns" against the government, and called for financial backers to cut off funds to the group.

Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said that despite the positive reaction of Global Witness to the ban, the government would continue to serve the needs of the Cambodian people, rather than outside pressure groups.

"We don't pay attention to this organisation. We just [want to] make sure our people have enough food and are happy," he said Wednesday.

MOST VIEWED

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,