THIS WEEK IN HISTORY
Vol. 10; No. 3
February 2- 15 2001
PRIME Minister Hun Sen has blasted the environmental monitors Global Witness (GW), threatening to expel the organisation from Cambodia.
Hun Sen's threats came in the wake of a GW report presented to the government and donors at the January 29 Consultative Group meeting in Phnom Penh.
The report said illegal logging, on a massive scale, has resumed in Cambodia and the government is losing much-needed revenue.
At a January 31 speech at the Ministry of Interior, Hun Sen questioned GW's agenda in Cambodia.
"I feel that the [GW criticisms] are a politically motivated defamation of the honour of local authorities and the competence of the government," said the prime minister.
"Maybe [Global Witness] thought that because of my promise [to stop illegal logging] in front of the United Nations, if it is shown that I am not able to curb illegal logging, then I will have to step down as prime minister during the first three months of 2001."
A spokesperson for GW, Jon Buckrell, told the Post the organisation does not have a political agenda and acknowledges the prime minister's support in reforming Cambodia's forestry sector.
"In the press release issued prior to the post-CG meeting, Global Witness said, ‘Under Hun Sen's leadership the possibility of forestry reform has become a reality. The RGC's commitment to preservation of the central Cardamoms, and to the concept of forestry reform, has been amazing over the past year.' Clearly, Global Witness' sole motivation is the preservation of Cambodia's forests, not to get involved in politics," said Buckrell.
Hun Sen also attacked the veracity of GW's forest crime investigations and complained that GW gave information about their investigations to the media before informing the government.
"We will take action, but the information we receive from Global Witness is always wrong," said the prime minister.