Kandal provincial governor Kong Sophorn explained that the recent issue related to goat meat that had angered Prime Minister Hun Sen was a situation where the meat had been illegally transported and slaughtered.
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon told officials on September 18 in Kandal to explain their actions after being caught on video clashing with villagers and seizing a black plastic bag of goat meat. The video was then shared by the prime minister on social media.
The officials can be seen in the video arguing that the meat had not been slaughtered according to legal requirements.
“The government allows people to raise livestock for meat, not merely to keep the animals for exhibition,” Hun Sen quipped in a Facebook post on September 18.
He said people who raise animals have the right to slaughter them for meat, writing that any law that bans the action must be amended.
“Has the treatment of our people by government officials really gotten to this point? Are the agriculture minister and provincial governor aware of the issue? Since when has the government ever banned people from slaughtering animals for meat?” he asked.
In a response to the post, agriculture minister Veng Sakhon noted that while there are restrictions on commercial slaughter, nothing in the Law on Animal Health and Production forbids private slaughter for family consumption.
“Regarding the above issue, I hope the authorities in Kandal province who were involved in the matter will provide a detailed account” to the prime minister, he said.
To clarify the issue, on September 18 Kong Sophorn posted a response to Hun Sen in a Facebook post, saying that the Ponhea Leu district veterinary officials had stopped people from transporting a total of 17 kg of goat meat without permission.
“This case is not transporting meat for consumption at the family level, it was a business. The people who were transporting it had imported goats from Banteay Meanchey province and were slaughtering them for sale every day.
“25 people were importing 50 goats per day. They didn’t use animal slaughterhouses and slaughtered the goats at home and threw the remains into the river, degrading the environment and risking transmission of diseases to other animals and humans,” Sophorn said.
Sophorn said the goats were slaughtered just 800 metres away from the authorised slaughterhouse. The veterinary officials told the people to slaughter the goats at the slaughterhouse, but they said that the slaughterhouse’s charges were too high at 9,000 riel per goat while they thought they should pay just 4,000 riel per goat.
“The officials had instructed them several times already and finally they gave them one month to get their business officially acknowledged by the relevant authorities. But the one month deadline passed and they still hadn’t complied with the law so then the officials seized the meat and got them to sign a contract promising not to continue selling goat meat without permission,” Sophorn said.
The governor said the provincial administration urged the provincial department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries and local authorities to facilitate requests for permission to open businesses and that animal slaughter for family use must be permitted without any obstruction.
He also urged the slaughterhouse owners and the people to compromise on the slaughter fee and said that both the officials and the people involved should have better communications with each other.