Sam Inn, who has been appointed secretary of state for the Ministry of Environment after joining the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), has brought forth significant environmental concerns to Prime Minister Hun Sen. These issues pertain to the reforestation of Phnom Penh city and the conservation of local lakes.

Inn, formerly a senior official of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP), communicated his concerns on June 12 during his first meeting with the premier.

During the courtesy call, Inn expressed his gratitude for his recent appointment and outlined his concerns regarding the importance of widespread tree-planting in homes, schools, villages and pagodas across the Kingdom. He highlighted the aesthetic benefits of this initiative, in addition to maintaining several lakes in Phnom Penh for the well-being of the residents.

“The Prime Minister advocated for the planting of fruit trees at homes, which can provide both edible fruit and shade. Additionally, he discussed a national campaign for planting shade trees in villages, schools and pagodas,” he conveyed the premier’s positive response after their meeting.

According to Inn, for the tree-planting campaign to be successful, it is crucial to have promotional materials that stimulate participation from both authorities and citizens.

“We can’t implement the campaign immediately, as it is still in its early stages. Firstly, it needs to be integrated into the environment ministry’s strategic plan, which is currently under draft. Secondly, local authorities must understand the importance of this national campaign and encourage nationwide tree planting. I will work with the ministry to expedite this process,” he said.

Inn expressed his intent to expedite the operation based on the prime minister’s remarks and plans. Additionally, he seeks to commemorate a national tree day to educate the masses and local authorities on the significance of this matter.

With regards to lake conservation, Inn named Boeung Ta Mok, Boeung Tumpun and Boeung Choeung Ek as areas needing preservation.

“Maintaining these lakes and developing public parks in the capital are key to improving the living standards of people,” he said.

Accirding to Inn, Hun Sen responded that while some lakes will be preserved, others may need to be cleared for development purposes, and that there must be a balance between filling and preserving some lakes that are essential for water storage and public park use.

San Chey, executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, praised the open dialogue.

“The case of Sam Inn discussing his priorities with the Prime Minister fosters an environment of discussion. For me, all challenges within the community, especially those mentioned by Inn, can be addressed if there is dialogue amongst stakeholders, relevant partners and concerned community members,” he said.