Minister of Interior Sar Kheng has instructed all provincial governors, and the Mondulkiri provincial governor in particular, to regularly inspect forests and natural resources in helicopters.
Sar Kheng, also the deputy prime minister, said relevant ministries and leaders in Mondulkiri have to protect natural resources. The work, he said, will gain the support of people and attract tourists and investors to the area.
“It is our ancestral wealth,” he said.
He encouraged other ministers and provincial governors in natural resource-rich areas to consider preparing a regular calendar for forest helicopter inspections instead of relying solely on patrols by vehicles and on foot to catch land encroachers.
“I visited China and they gave me a presentation on large projects. I asked where the money came from? The answer: The money comes from three sources – ancestral money, our money and our children’s money.”
Sar Kheng said ancestral money referred to natural resources – the forest and mountains – which can attract investments. But the money didn’t come from logging timber, he said.
“Our money is the money that comes from our efforts to invest – taxes and work. Our children’s money refers to the money borrowed for development and our children are the ones to take over. That borrowing must be limited,” Sar Kheng said.
Mondulkiri provincial governor Svay Sam Eang said on November 27 the provincial administration is following the interior ministry’s directives in terms of forest land encroachment.
He said there have been challenges because the area borders Vietnam and consists of forests, mountains and waterfalls. But the provincial administration is short on armed forces and has found it difficult to fight forest crimes, wild animal trafficking and forest land encroachment.
“On behalf of the Mondulkiri Provincial Administration, I would like to request the government allocate land from wildlife sanctuaries in Mondulkiri for people who have relied on them for their livelihoods for a long time,” he said.
Adhoc community empowerment officer Pen Bunnar said: “Problems still persist because some officials have colluded with traders. They have signed various [land ownership] certificates for a small reward without being concerned about problems in future.
“If national-level specialists identify irregularities on the part of subnational-level officials, they have to take strict action and traders involved must be prosecuted. Fake land titles must be annulled,” he said.