Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kheng addresses illegal fishing before elections

Kheng addresses illegal fishing before elections

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Interior Minister Sar Kheng chairs a meeting yesterday in Phnom Penh regarding an ongoing nationwide illegal fishing crackdown, Photo Supplied

Kheng addresses illegal fishing before elections

Interior Minister Sar Kheng yesterday called on authorities to ramp up a crackdown on illegal fishing ahead of upcoming commune elections, prompting one fisheries activist to question whether the action would continue after it ceased to be politically expedient.

In his remarks, given at a meeting at the Ministry of Interior, Kheng appeared to link success in the nationwide campaign to victory for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party at the ballot box in June.

“If the situation to handle fishing crimes is not good, more or less, it will impact the election; therefore we need to have a mission to handle the problem,” Kheng said.

“From today until the election period, there are only 47 days . . . therefore [we] we need to rally” to solve the problem, he added.

Also speaking at yesterday’s meeting, National Police chief Neth Savoeun said that he was not satisfied with the uneven results of the crackdown, which started in December. While some areas around the Tonle Sap showed decreases in illegal fishing, he said, the problem had persisted or increased in others.

Savoeun argued that the push would not prove successful until the “masterminds” behind illegal fishing in the Tonle Sap are brought to justice. Meanwhile, officials who are “involved with [the] perpetrators, they will be punished in compliance with the law”, he added.

Between December 8 and April 17, more than 700 raids were undertaken against illegal fishermen, though only 30 were sent to court, according to statistics presented at yesterday’s meeting.

Youk Senglong, the deputy executive director of Fisheries Action Coalition Team, said that anecdotal evidence suggested the crackdown was having a positive effect, but questioned whether the Interior Ministry’s commitment will carry on after the commune elections. However, he added, it was “better to wait until after the election to see” if the crackdown continues apace.

The small number of prosecutions, on the other hand, could prove a political liability, Senglong said.

“There is a connection with popularity. [Authorities think] if they send many people to court, they might mobilise many people not to vote for the CPP,” he said. However, he said, rather than an aggressive stance, it would be the lack of concrete action that hurt the ruling party in the eyes of the law-abiding public.

“The majority of the public don’t commit crimes,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom may hire Turkish power ship

    Cambodia is considering negotiating with Turkey to hire a 200MW-capacity power ship to meet electricity demands as the country faces an ongoing electrical shortage, according to the prime minister. Speaking to garment workers in Pursat province on Wednesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Electricite du

  • ‘Kingdom lacks up to 400MW in available electricity’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on the general public, hoteliers and businesspeople with generators to use them as back-up as the Electricity Authority of Cambodia cannot generate enough electricity to meet needs due to low water levels in power station reservoirs. On Saturday evening

  • EDC tackles power shortfall

    Electrcite Du Cambodge (EDC) on Monday issued a statement updating the public on its efforts to tackle insufficient electricity supplies during the ongoing dry season. Reductions in electricity prices have resulted in a steady increase in consumers in the Kingdom, while local and international investors

  • African swine fever spreads to VN-Cambodia border

    African swine fever has spread to parts of Vietnam that border Cambodia’s Ratanakkiri and Kratie provinces, a Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries official said on Friday. Tan Phannara, the General Directorate of Animal Health and Production director-general, told a Phnom Penh workshop that