Tbong Khmum provincial officials have announced a crackdown on illegal checkpoints along the Vietnamese border, possibly in response to a purported warning issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen to provincial Governor Ly Leng to monitor the transport of timber in the province.
Local media reports contend that the prime minister singled out party officials during a three-day Cambodian People’s Party congress over the weekend, including Governor Leng for failing to curb illegal timber transport, who was given a week to make changes or face termination.
Yesterday, Deputy Governor Pen Kosal confirmed that authorities will crack down on illegal border checkpoints but claimed the order was from a Ministry of Interior directive from earlier this month.
“We did not create the checkpoints. It is not permitted by law. But sometimes, it is the village checkpoint which they [people] use for visiting the neighbouring villages [in Vietnam],” he said.
Kosal claimed authorities had been unaware of the checkpoints beforehand and did not comment on whether they were being used to transport timber across the border. Leng did not respond to requests for comment, but told Fresh News that authorities would tackle the illegal timber trade across the border, as well as illegal checkpoints.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan acknowledged that the premier had asked party officials to more effectively deal with their responsibilities, but said details of such instructions were private. Adhoc’s Pen Bonnar said
he had personally witnessed the illegal checkpoints in the province and said any effort to shut them down was merely lip service.
“They are just doing it to look good. The more serious the warning, the [faster] the loss of forest is,” Bonnar said yesterday.