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

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement

  • Walmart plans to diversify stock of Cambodia goods

    Walmart Inc, the world’s biggest retailer, on June 22 reiterated recent plans to scale up and greatly diversify its purchases of Cambodian products, according to the labour ministry. This came during a virtual working meeting between Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Samheng and

  • Cambodia detects new Covid cases after 52 days: PM

    After 52 days of zero new Covid-19 cases, Cambodia has now detected new infections, according to Prime Minister Hun Sen. In his special audio address to the nation late on June 28, Hun Sen said the new cases were detected on people who had undergone PCR tests

  • Cotton club growing in Battambang

    The global market for “vegan leather” – materials that act as alternatives to traditional leather that can be synthesised from cork, apple peels, cactus, recycled plastic, grape pomace and pineapple leaves, among other things, and supposedly require no chemicals or water to produce – is expected to