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Interior Minister says Preah Sihanouk boom could hit sea’s health

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Tourists walk along a beach in Sihanoukville in 2016.

Interior Minister says Preah Sihanouk boom could hit sea’s health

Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Wednesday claimed the recent influx of Chinese visitors to Preah Sihanouk province was raising concerns over the condition of ecosystems on the Kingdom’s coast.

Speaking during a ceremony to appoint leaders to posts at both the National Authority for Combating Drugs and the Ministry of Interior, Kheng said the increased investment in the coastal town had attracted businesses and tourists.

Addressing concerns that crime has increased with the influx of workers from China, he said Sihanoukville was not properly prepared for the evolution that is now taking place, and that the murders, drug use, environmental degradation and hygiene issues have all increased in the area recently.

“What we are concerned about most is the ocean which has become very popular among Cambodians and foreigners in the region,” he said.

He also said the Ministry of Interior would establish a team to work with Preah Sihanouk authorities to bolster general administration, the national police, immigration department and the legal infrastructure.

The group, he said, will not replace any current body, but rather provide support to help solve issues effectively and crackdown on illegal activities in the province.

“If we do not take good care of the ocean properly, it might become polluted which is our worry. On behalf of the Ministry of Interior, we will create a team to investigate,” Kheng said.

Soeng Sen Karuna, a senior investigator for rights group Adhoc, said police have taken some action, but they are not effectively controlling the problems.

He said that even though the Kingdom has mechanisms in place to enforce laws on foreign visitors, many officers were corrupt or even actively colluding with the perpetrators.

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