The article "Draft forest law lambasted by NGO Forum" (Post, 7-20 July)
summarized nicely a submission of the NGO Forum to the Royal Government concerning
a recent draft of the Forestry Law.
This submission, however, had not been intended for media release. Had the Post contacted
me for comment, I would have liked to have added a positive observation as follows:
The Royal Government has shown good leadership in sharing a draft law with non-governmental
groups and requesting their comment. This new willingness to consult is of benefit
to both the Government and the community.
The Government benefits by ensuring that the laws finally adopted will be popular
and well received. Community groups benefit from having their concerns raised and
their rights and needs met.
NGOs are of the opinion that more time for consultation will be of great benefit
to the development of the Forestry Law. A similar observation can be made regarding
the Royal Government's management of the Highway One Road Improvement Project, as
described in "Road to nowhere for Route One waysiders" (Post, 9-22 June).
In this project, the Government has taken the unprecedented steps of providing compensation
to project-affected people and of requesting NGOs to monitor the disbursement of
the compensation. NGOs were able to raise a number of important problems, some of
which are already being dealt with, and others for which solutions will hopefully
We need to see the final results before praising the Royal Government on these and
However, in the meantime, the input of NGOs and other groups should not be seen as
criticism, but rather as helpful feedback to help ensure the best results for both
government and the people.
- Russell Peterson, The Representative, The NGO Forum on Cambodia