Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Soldiers, residents trade blame over illegal logging in Mondulkiri

Soldiers, residents trade blame over illegal logging in Mondulkiri

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Villagers claim the officer had cleared several hectares of forest land and had been ready to grab all 100ha. Suppled

Soldiers, residents trade blame over illegal logging in Mondulkiri

Indigenous people in Mondulkiri province plan to file a complaint with the provincial court against a military officer from the Army Base “K1” in O’Raing district’s Dak Dam commune, for clearing forest land for personal ownership within the Phnom Nam Lear Wildlife Sanctuary.

But the army base’s commander Kong Dam said he had asked his subordinate officer about the accusation and was told that the land was cleared by residents.

“My officers only went to see the cleared land and it had long been cleared. The residents are the ones that cleared it. No soldier ever went to clear it. Overall, the community members share and clear it on their own. When they are afraid that soldiers are taking the land, they file a complaint, saying that we are the guilty party,” Dam said.

However, provincial forest activist Kroeung Tola said he would discuss the matter with a lawyer to prepare a complaint against the officer, whom he declined to name.

He claimed the officer had cleared several hectares of forest land in O’Raing district’s Dak Dam commune. In reality, he said, he had been ready to grab all 100ha.

“We went there and saw him clearing nearly 10ha or a little more than that. We saw trees spray painted as a mark to log further. According to my estimates, the land spans 100ha.

“Another military officer who asked not to be named said that the logger is the officer at the Army Base ‘K1’. Because I am preparing the complaint, I don’t want to reveal his name as yet. I will only confirm that he is a ‘K1’ soldier. But I will name him when I file the court complaint.”

Tola said on Wednesday, he and five other community members from Dak Dam and Bou Sra districts went to check the location and saw some felled trees. Some trees measured up to 1m in diameter, he said.

Originally, he said the land belonged to the Pou Treng village community under the management of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. But recently the community land was re-designated to the Phnom Nam Lear Wildlife Sanctuary under the same ministry’s management.

“The laws on granting economic land concessions stipulate that people or civil servants grow rice traditionally on 10ha or more. The government must remit the public’s property to private property. Without the transfer of public property to private property, a hard land title is still illegal.”

But Nam Lea Wildlife Sanctuary director Vuth Sarom said the forest land was not yet officially included in the wildlife sanctuary and is still under the ministry’s management.

“The land belongs to the community and they are requesting that it be transferred as a natural protected area under the Ministry of Environment. But a formal letter to this effect has not been prepared,” he said.

Provincial Forestry Administration director Um Van Sopheak said the land was no longer under the management of the Ministry of Agriculture and referred questions to a Ministry of Environment.

Dak Dam commune chief Chas Na said he would check the forest land when he received a report from the community head. If the land is cleared illegally, we will protect and keep it under the management of the state. “We have measures to stop any illegal clearing,” he said.


  • Migrant workers stranded in Malaysia plead to return

    Some Cambodian migrant workers stuck in Malaysia after flights were cancelled in April said they received some support from the Cambodian embassy, but they are looking forward to returning home because work is scarce. Ham Saly from Kampong Cham told The Post on Thursday that

  • PM marks Int’l Children Day with call for improvements in welfare

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has issued a six-point message on the occasion of the 71st anniversary of International Children’s Day on June 1, Cambodian Children’s Day, also on June 1 and the 19th anniversary of the World Day Against Child Labour on June 12. In a

  • Wing teams up with the Agricultural and Rural Development Bank to assist Smes, agri-businesses

    Wing (Cambodia) Limited Specialised Bank and the Agricultural and Rural Development Bank of Cambodia (ARDB) on Wednesday partnered to provide all small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and agriculture businesses in the Kingdom with easy financial access. With this partnership, ARDB customers will be able to

  • Drivers told to renew licence

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol called on citizens operating vehicles with expired driving licenses and vehicle inspection certificates to renew them or they would be fined. Chanthol said some driver’s licenses have expired for eight years. He also said drivers without

  • Call for end to tabacco adverts aimed at youth

    The NGO Cambodia Movement for Health (CMH) on Thursday urged the government to take stricter measures to implement the Law on Tobacco Control, claiming that some tobacco companies continue to flout the law by targeting underage consumers. CMH said in a Wednesday press release that

  • Private school parents petition for lower fees

    Parents and guardians of students at the private CIA FIRST International School plan to submit a petition asking Prime Minister Hun Sen to intervene in their ongoing tuition dispute. The parents, who have been protesting school costs for weeks, now want the price of online