In response to a request made by opposition lawmakers in early May to turn the Areng Valley in Koh Kong province into an eco-tourism reserve, Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday said that the government has twice stated that it would preserve the valley and hold off for now on the Stung Cheay Areng hydropower dam.
The letter came in response to a proposal sent by six Cambodian National Rescue Party leaders on May 19, which asked to approve the protected status of the valley, whose abundant biodiversity would face threats from possible dam construction.
“Two times, the government’s response had ample clarification,” Hun Sen said in a letter dated June 2, adding that the government had assured the National Assembly of its intentions.
The letter added that the government is committed to conserving the area.
“With or without the hydro project, turning the Areng valley into an eco-tourism [site] is the agenda of the government,” the letter reads.
However, Um San An, one of the CNRP lawmakers who signed onto the newest letter to the government, said that the ruling party did not make it clear whether or not the dam would be constructed down the line.
“His response was that he was studying the Areng Valley for development, so the word ‘studying’ was [unclear],” he said. “If he [does] develop it for eco-tourism, all he has to do is issue a sub-decree.”