A celebration of the Koh Kong mangrove ecosystem, threatened by sand dredging, with a three-day “Mangrove Festival” fizzled out over the weekend in what seemed more of a planning problem than a political intervention, though the ruling CPP was connected.
NGO Mother Nature planned the event to draw attention to a vital habitat. It had intended to hold the festival over the long weekend in a pagoda in Kaoh Sralao village, Kaoh Kapi commune.
But Commune Chief Khun Vanna initially denied them entry before seeing a letter from the provincial government giving permission, on the condition the event focus on tourism. Then the CPP connection came in.
“The commune chief stopped us from doing [activities] in the pagoda,” said Mother Nature activist Mot Kimry, on the basis that local CPP officials had already booked it for an event.
Kaoh Sralao community leader Leak Sopheap found fault on both sides. Mother Nature, said Sopheap, sought permission too late and the CPP should have held their event at their own office. “There was no exhibition, no dancing as planned,” said Sopheap.