Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kampong Speu villagers burn seized load of timber

Kampong Speu villagers burn seized load of timber

Some 20 villagers in Kampong Speu’s Phnom Srouch district on Wednesday erupted in protest, burning timber and trying to set a Forestry Administration truck on fire, as forces tried to confiscate illegal wood. Photo supplied
Some 20 villagers in Kampong Speu’s Phnom Srouch district on Wednesday erupted in protest, burning timber and trying to set a Forestry Administration truck on fire, as forces tried to confiscate illegal wood. Photo supplied

Kampong Speu villagers burn seized load of timber

Forestry Administration officials and local police on Wednesday intercepted a load of illegal timber in Kampong Speu, but only managed to seize two of the 10 first-grade logs after villagers began to burn the timber – and attempted to do the same to an FA truck – in protest of the confiscation.

Chea Saron, chief of the Borsed Forestry Administration, who led the operation after receiving a tip, said that some 20 villagers erupted in protest in an attempt to halt the seizure.

“We do not know the owner of the timber, but the villagers claimed the timber is [theirs] and wanted it back,” he said. “They also attempted to burn the truck. [We] were in fear.”

According to a video clip posted on Facebook, authorities turned their trucks around as the timber was burning, while other officers just stood watching from a distance.

Saron said villagers also insulted officials, but no arrests were carried out.

“Villagers banning the authorities is completely [a] violation of the law, but we could not do anything because they are simple villagers and there were many of them,” he said.

Khun Sokhim, Taing Sya commune police chief, claimed it was difficult for authorities to stop the villagers because they live in the same commune.

“We are afraid that they will hate us,” he said.

Sokhim said the villagers had logged the timber illegally to build homes or to sell it, though he claimed not to know who they sold it to. He added it would be up to the FA to take action.

Chea Hean, head of the Natural Resources and Wildlife Preservation Organization, claimed that the villagers had sold the timber to a military official named Yim Sophan, who had already paid, and had ordered villagers to protest to get the timber back or pay him back double.

Hean further alleged that Sophan is the father of Yim Sokhan, a soldier who earlier this week was arrested in the same district for allegedly using “fake” Royal Cambodian Armed Forces’ licence plates to transport timber.

Sophan yesterday denied the accusation that he bought the wood from the villagers and ordered them to protest, though he did admit Sokhan is his son.

Saron, with the FA, said that he was not sure if Sophan was involved in the crime as the investigation is still ongoing.

MOST VIEWED

  • Restrictions re-imposed in capital as Covid cases surge

    Amid the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has shown no sign of subsiding with 750 infections and 10 deaths reported on June 2 alone, the Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has decided to re-impose the suspension of all occupations and business activities deemed as posing high risk of

  • Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway 51% complete

    The construction of the nearly $2 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway is 51.35 per cent complete and is expected to be finished in 2023, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of state Vasim Sorya. Invested in by Cambodian PPSHV Expressway Co Ltd, the first expressway in

  • With herd immunity likely in 2022, is Cambodia ready to reopen for tourism?

    The government aims to inoculate 80 per cent of the target population by June next year, giving it a head start among regional peers to reboot the sector but first, it has to do a few things to up its game A sign on a glass

  • First 7-Eleven store to open mid-June, ambassador says

    Thai retail conglomerate CP All Pcl will open Cambodia’s first 7-Eleven convenience store in mid-June, Cambodian ambassador to Thailand Ouk Sorphorn told The Post on June 1. The Bangkok-listed 7-Eleven franchise operator, the retail arm of Charoen Pokphand Group Co Ltd, granted CP All (Cambodia)

  • US wants 'full access' to Ream Naval Base

    On June 11, the US embassy's Defense Attaché Colonel Marcus M Ferrara visited Ream Nava Base in coordination with Cambodian officials following the recent approval of Prime minister Hun Sen to allay the concerns on Chinese military presence at the base as raised by US Deputy

  • US embassy guard gets Covid despite two doses of Pfizer jab

    The Covid-19 tracking commission on June 4 said a security guard at the US embassy in Phnom Penh had contracted the novel coronavirus, despite having received a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot two weeks ago. Embassy spokesperson Chad Roedemeier confirmed the SARS-CoV-2 infection to The