Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday called on Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction Chea Sophara and the governors of the Kingdom’s four coastal provinces to be resolute in protecting beaches from encroachment.

He warned that a two-star general would be removed from his position if he was found to have filled in or encroached on the sea.

This came as the prime minister said he had received information regarding such a case.

“I have received information that the sea in Koh Kong province is being filled in without permission. I instruct Sophara and the governor of Koh Kong province to immediately investigate whether a military general has carried out these activities.

“If this turns out to be true, I will not allow him to remain a general,” Hun Sen said at the 8th Sea Festival 2019 in Kampot province on Sunday.

Hun Sen told Sophara, who is chair of the Coastal Area Preparation Committee, which also includes the governors of Koh Kong, Kampot, Kep and Preah Sihanouk provinces, to ensure coastal areas are protected.

“We have the coastal committee of which Sophara, the Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, is chair and other ministers are vice-chairs.

“However, responsibility must lie with the governor of each province, who must carefully oversee the protection of coastal areas. There must be no filling in anywhere without permission,” the prime minister ordered.

Hun Sen said that land reclamation could only take place after studies had been carried out and when necessary, such as for building ports and breakwaters at resorts.

The destruction of coastal areas, such as land reclamation or releasing wastewater into it, as well as cutting down mangroves to grab land, he said, must be cracked down on.

“I want to say to people – please don’t destroy our heritage . . . please don’t destroy our coastal areas and please don’t destroy our forests to fulfil short-term needs. We need to keep what we have and improve it to benefit in the long-term,” the prime minister said.

Pich Sros, a member of the Supreme Consultation Forum, claimed recently that Tun Dieth, a two-star military general who is the head of a Cambodian-Thai border checkpoint, had installed markers in the sea at Smach Ngam village, in Khemarak Phumin town’s Smach Meanchey commune to expand his property.

“Two-star general Tun Dieth could be removed on the recommendation of Samdech Techo Hun Sen for filling in the sea without permission. I would like to announce that Koh Kong’s coast will soon be saved, and I would like to thank the prime minister,” Sros said on Sunday.

Kampot governor Cheav Tay told The Post on Sunday that he fully supported Hun Sen’s comments and that the Kampot provincial authorities fully protected its coastal areas and took measures against illegal encroachment.

“We do not allow anyone to grab coastal land, which belongs to the state,” Tay said.

Sophara, Koh Kong provincial governor Mithona Phouthorng, Kep provincial governor Ken Satha and Preah Sihanouk governor Kuoch Chamroeun could not be reached for comment.

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