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

  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Kingdom accepts Chinese vaccine, PM first to get jab

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said China would offer Cambodia an immediate donation of one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Sinopharm company. In an audio message addressing the public on the night of January 15, he said Cambodia has accepted the offer and

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • Hun Sen: Lakes filled in for national developments

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced continued operations to fill some lakes in Phnom Penh to create land for developments, though he is against the unrelated practice of damming rivers or blocking waterways. Speaking at the inauguration of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport

  • PM asks India for vaccine help

    Prime Minister Hun Sen is seeking assistance from India for the provision of Covid-19 vaccines as the country has produced its own vaccine which is scheduled to be rolled out to more than 300 million Indians this year. The request was made during his meeting with

  • Local media loses a giant, and The Post a great friend

    Cheang Sokha, a gifted and streetwise reporter who rose to the highest ranks of Cambodian media and was beloved for his sharp intelligence, world-class humour and endless generosity, died on Friday in his hometown of Phnom Penh. He was 42. His wife, Sok Sophorn, said he