Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Officials inspect forest that was filled in, sold

Officials inspect forest that was filled in, sold

Koh Kong provincial authorities on Friday inspect a section of a protected mangrove forest in Koh Kong after being ordered to do so by Prime Minister Hun Sen. Photo supplied
Koh Kong provincial authorities on Friday inspect a section of a protected mangrove forest in Koh Kong after being ordered to do so by Prime Minister Hun Sen. Photo supplied

Officials inspect forest that was filled in, sold

On the orders of Prime Minister Hun Sen, Koh Kong provincial authorities on Friday inspected a section of protected mangrove forest that in December was discovered to have been filled in with sand and illegally sold, with the consent of local authorities, to tycoon Chea Leanghong.

The premier, during the closing of a national conference on decentralisation on Thursday, said he became aware of the issue through local media reports.

That same day, The Post had published an article revealing Leanghong had bought the land last March, after authorities had claimed over the prior two months they were unaware of who was behind the illegal activities.

“Koh Kong province must have a problem,” Hun Sen said. “Who allowed . . . this?”

The premier singled out Environment Minister Say Sam Al and Land Management Minister Chea Sophara, ordering them to investigate with local authorities, including Koh Kong Governor Mithona Phouthorng.

Kay Krong, chief of Stung Veng commune, yesterday confirmed that the person behind the land in question is Leanghong, although he had previously claimed he was unsure who was operating in the area. The land is within a “community zone” inside Peam Krasaop Wildlife Sanctuary, where villagers are allowed to live and cultivate crops.

Krong said Koh Kong Deputy Governor Orn Phearak, who led Friday’s inspection, had asked the land owner to appear to answer questions and also asked for any available documents pertaining to the sale.

Louk Sovanna, the wife of Leanghong, has declined to respond to questions since being provided on Thursday with a copy of a sale contract for the land, showing her husband’s name as the buyer.

Phouthorng said provincial authorities had already sent a report to the Environment Ministry to take action.

Sam Al declined to comment.

Seng Sokheng, with the Community Peace Building Network, said officials should not just respond on a case-by-case when ordered to take action from the national level. Even with the intervention on the 2-hectare plot of land, Sokheng said he doesn’t foresee a change.

“If that case belongs to a tycoon, maybe the Ministry of Environment can’t stop it,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘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

  • Sor Chandeth defends his criticism of Hun Sen

    Former senator Sor Chandeth has defended his choice of words when criticising Hun Sen, saying he was merely speaking metaphorically to attack the Prime Minister’s political life, not his actual person, as the latter seeks damages. [img] Chandeth spoke to The Post on Thursday,

  • South Korea’s Moon arrives in Kingdom for state visit

    South Korean president Moon Jae-in and his wife arrived in Phnom Penh on Thursday at the start of a three-day state visit to Cambodia to strengthen ties and further the friendship between the two countries. After arriving at the Phnom Penh International Airport in the

  • Youths band together to clean ‘filthy’ Boeung Trabek canal

    Inspired by their affection for the environment, a desire to have a clean and beautiful city, and wanting to send a message to people to stop littering, a group of some two dozen volunteer youths have taken to picking up trash day and night from