Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Prey Lang petition goes unanswered

Prey Lang petition goes unanswered

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Activist monks stand in front of the National Assembly yesterday afternoon with confiscated chainsaws during a protest against illegal logging and land exploitation in Prey Lang forest. Heng Chivoan

Prey Lang petition goes unanswered

Environmental activist monks yesterday hand delivered five confiscated chainsaws to the Forestry Administration and National Assembly in Phnom Penh in protest against illegal logging and land exploitation in Prey Lang forest.

Unobstructed by security forces, about 100 monks took to the streets in opposition of the ongoing rampant destruction of the northern forest, which spans hundreds of thousands of hectares across four provinces and serves as a vital watershed to the Tonle Sap river system.

Venerable Heng Raksmey, a representative of Sre Veam village in Preah Vihear province, said massive logging of the forest “without the rule of law” continued unabated in his community almost every day.

Joining the community activists were members of the Independent Monks Network for Social Justice, who had over the previous weekend ordained trees and marched through the forest to bring awareness to deforestation issues in the area.

Network leader Venerable But Buntenh yesterday accused Prime Minister Hun Sen of failing to live by his own professed faith in the country’s newfound “culture of dialogue”.

“Those Forestry Administration officers are the ‘dollar officers’, as they don’t care about the forest or Prey Lang and let bad merchants continue to destroy the forest day by day,” Buntenh said at the protest.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen asked me to have a culture of dialogue, and that is why I came and want to talk nicely and send the petition to you [Hun Sen], but why don’t you come out and send an officer to grab my petition?”

The activists attempted to deliver the petition, which demands the government “study the scope and boundaries of Prey Lang forest explicitly and prepare the sub-decree on [protecting] Prey Lang as soon as possible”, to both the FA and parliament.

Buntenh said an official at the FA had simply tried to take the petition and “run away”, while he and the activists waited at the gates of the Assembly for someone to receive the document to no avail.

“I tried to call them, but nobody picked up,” he said, adding that even members of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party would not receive the petition.

Thousands of hectares of land in Prey Lang, declared a biodiversity hotspot in a recent assessment, have been granted as economic land concessions to private companies, many of which have been accused of conducting widespread illegal logging.

Conservationists have long tried to have the forest declared a protected area while several small community activist groups frequently confront concessionaires during patrols of Prey Lang.

Officials at the forestry administration declined to comment.

Additional reporting by May Titthara and Ethan Harfenist

MOST VIEWED

  • Research key to Kanitha’s rep for expertise

    Sok Kanitha is used to weighing in on controversial issues using a confident approach that signals expertise and authority, and a recent video she made was no exception. Her “Episode 342: The History of NATO” video went live on January 16, 2023 and immediately shot to 30,000 likes and 3,500

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Artificial insemination takes herd from 7 to 700

    Some farms breed local cows or even import bulls from a broad for the purpose of breeding heavier livestock for meat production. One Tbong Khnum farmer has found a more efficient way. Hout Leang employs artificial insemination to fertilise local cows. Thanks to imported “straws”

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,

  • Capital-Poipet express rail project making headway

    The preliminary results of a feasibility study to upgrade the Phnom Penh-Poipet railway into Cambodia’s first express railway indicate that the project would cost more than $4 billion and would take around four years to complete. The study was carried out by China Road and

  • Thai boxers to join SEA Games’ Kun Khmer event

    The Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) – together with the Kun Khmer International Federation (KKIF) and Khmer Boxing Federation – have achieved a “great success” by including Kun Khmer in the upcoming biennial multi-sports event on its home soil for the first time, said a senior