Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘Hundreds’ more logs seized in crackdown



‘Hundreds’ more logs seized in crackdown

Authorities inspect a field with stockpiles of wood yesterday in Kratie province during an ongoing crackdown on illegal lumber. Photo supplied
Authorities inspect a field with stockpiles of wood yesterday in Kratie province during an ongoing crackdown on illegal lumber. Photo supplied

‘Hundreds’ more logs seized in crackdown

Military police in Mondulkiri province yesterday seized “hundreds” of logs of timber in Pech Chreada district, amid a continuing crackdown on illegal logging and timber smuggling across Cambodia’s border with Vietnam.

The raid, a joint operation between military police and the Forestry Administration, came as the committee leading the crackdown, formed on Friday by Prime Minister Hun Sen, warned more raids were imminent while continuing to check whether thousands of logs seized in several recent busts were illegally felled and should be confiscated.

Authorities yesterday declined to elaborate on who would receive the timber if it was confiscated, though a 2014 agreement signed between the government and Try Pheap gives the logging magnate – himself long accused of forest crimes – exclusive rights to buy and export wood seized by the state.

Following the crackdown order by the premier, who singled out two tycoons – Soeng Sam Ol and Lim Bunna – as illegal loggers and the operation’s primary targets, civilian agencies and military officers have swooped down on three timber warehouses belonging to the pair in Tbong Khmum, an economic land concession (ELC) in Kratie province’s Sambor district, and logging operations in Mondulkiri province.

Prey Veng provincial military police chief Men Sibon said his officers had also confiscated three logging trucks in Prey Veng on Monday, though the drivers “ran away”.

Mondulkiri provincial military police commander Sak Saraing said the Pech Chreada district bust uncovered “hundreds” of logs felled in a protected forest, though he was unable to give more details.

Meanwhile, in Tbong Khmum, provincial court prosecutor Hiek Sopheak said officers were sorting through three timber warehouses to check their stores’ legality, and waiting for permission from national authorities to raid a fourth, owned by “Okhna Thai” in O’Reang-ou district.

The same process was also underway at the 6,000-hectare Chinese Dynamic Investment ELC in Kratie, according to Kratie provincial prosecutor Ty Sovinthal.

“More than 2,000 logs have been counted. We do not know the exact number yet because counting is still going on,” Sovinthal said, adding that wood found at the rubber and acacia tree plantation, raided on Sunday, was not luxury timber but grades one, two and three.

Sopheak said that officers were checking to see whether the logs were marked to indicate the company had paid the correct tax. To recover untaxed wood, the company would have to pay a fine equal to double the tax rate, he said, adding that any not claimed would be auctioned.

Chinese Dynamic Investment representative Hak Kosal said the firm had sufficient paperwork.

In a statement yesterday, a coalition of conservation NGOs – many of whom work closely with the Cambodian government – yesterday applauded the crackdown, led by national military police commander Sao Sokha, who has beefed up security at border checkpoints.

They called it “a good first step” that “sends the right message to illegal loggers”.

However, many remain sceptical, particularly given that the Try Pheap group, representatives of which were unreachable yesterday, could buy timber seized by the state.

“Confiscated timber changing hands will be an indicator of the outcome,” said Marcus Hardtke, of the German conservation group ARA.

Additional reporting by Shaun Turton

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from

  • Floods prompt evacuations in Kampong Speu

    Rain-induced floods and water flowing from Kampong Speu province have submerged the houses of 1,527 families living close to the Prek Thnot River in Spean Thma, Tien, Kong Noy and Roluos communes in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district, according to data from local authorities. Spean Thma