Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thousands drawn to Prey Lang

Thousands drawn to Prey Lang

Thousands drawn to Prey Lang

1 new commer prey lang
Homes of newcomers to an area of Prey Lang forest in Kampong Thom are seen behind stumps of recently felled trees. Photo Supplied

More than 10,000 families have poured into an area of Prey Lang forest in Kampong Thom province since January, clearing 20,000 hectares of trees to sell as luxury timber and building houses, Prey Lang Community Network members claimed yesterday.

Community representative Menh Ny said authorities were turning a blind eye to the migrant families’ actions, which included transporting truckloads of luxury timber out of the forest to sell.

“If they are allowed to continue, Prey Lang will be extinct in the near future, because migrants, companies and police forces alike are logging for sales and waiting for volunteer youths to come and measure land,” he said.

An independent source working in the area who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal also said the number of new families in the past three months exceeded 10,000.

Many are believed to be from Kampong Cham, Kratie, Kampong Thom, Prey Veng, Svay Rieng and Takeo provinces.  

Ny said he had pleaded with authorities to prevent further damage to the section of the forest the families live on, which stretches from Santouk district’s Boeung Lvear commune to the border of Kratie’s Prek Brosop district.

“The village chief, the commune chief, district authorities and forest administration officers have not taken any action against these families – and they are now trying to arrange documents to let them vote in the area in the upcoming election,” he said.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The home of a newcomer to an area of the Prey Lang forest in Kampong Thom province is seen behind the stumps of recently felled trees. Photo Supplied

Ny believed the families had promised to vote for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party in exchange for land.

Sam No, a Prey Lang Community Network representative from Kratie province, also believed authorities were involved in the logging.

“I pity the forest that is being ... cleared away. Police and soldiers are behind it,” he said.

Nou You Sos, who has recently taken up residence on five hectares of what was once thick forest, said talk among migrant families was that Prime Minister Hun Sen’s student land measurers would mark out his plot before July’s National Election.

“I have heard from others that [we] will be [formally given] our land, so I can live here legally,” he said.

Ouch Sam On, Kampong Thom deputy governor, said the number of families who had migrated to the forest was nowhere near 10,000 and the area they had logged was at the edge of Prey Lang rather than in it.

“We have asked our mixed authorities, such as forest administrative officers and police, to go and educate them and prevent them from clearing the forest,” he said. “Now, we’re seeing a decrease.”

Sam On added that authorities would not measure land for people who logged areas of the forest and had not promised land in exchange for votes.

Boeung Lvear commune chief Pen Noeun declined to comment, while Teb Nhata, director of Kampong Thom forest administration department, told a reporter not to “believe what they say”.

A sub-decree in 2011 established Prey Lang as a protected conservation, forbidding clearing of the forest for private ownership.

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince injured, wife dies after accident

    THE wife of former First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh, Ouk Phalla, 39, died while the prince was “severely” injured following a road accident in Preah Sihanouk province’s Prey Nub district on Sunday morning, officials said. Rananriddh, who is also the president of the Funcinpec

  • Bun Heang mocks US, threatens its citizens in scathing open letter

    After being hit with sanctions from the US Department of Treasury, Cambodian General Hing Bun Heang said he would retaliate against any US national who does not respect his country’s sovereignty, has ambitions to invade Cambodia or incites “traitors” in the Kingdom to do

  • Guards protest dismissals, reject claims of sharing naked photos of child

    Some 20 former security guards at the US Embassy in Phnom Penh protested on Tuesday against their dismissal. They accused their employers of falsely claiming they had viewed and shared child pornography from their mobile phones as grounds for their termination. In total, 32 personnel were dismissed

  • Funcinpec urges probe into deadly Preah Sihanouk accident

    THE Funcinpec party has urged the government, especially the Ministry of Interior, to investigate the traffic accident in Preah Sihanouk province which left Prince Norodom Ranariddh badly injured and his wife Ouk Phalla dead. Funcinpec Vice President You Hokry told reporters at Botum Votey pagoda,