Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Trees get the Sophara chop

Trees get the Sophara chop

Trees get the Sophara chop

tree.jpg
tree.jpg

The governor of Phnom Penh has decreed that the city's several thousand umbrella

trees - so called because of the large shady area they offer - are a public

nuisance and has ordered them to be cut down.

Another city tree gets the axe.

The reason, said Chea

Sophara, was that the large leaves clog the city's drains. He added that felling

them would not affect his beautification drive since they do not bear

flowers.

"We will be better off planting trees that have small leaves and

produce flowers," he said. "There is no advantage in keeping umbrella

trees."

Not everyone agrees. Lo Yu is deputy chief of the city's Chamkar

Morn district and said some people believe ghosts settle in the trees, which is

why many were planted inside pagodas and near crematoria.

The

superstitious are wary of chopping them down for fear the ghosts will take

revenge on them.

"Those who cut the trees pray to them because they are

worried that the spirits live there," he said. He added that the municipality

would plant flower-bearing trees to replace them.

Heng Nguon, deputy

chief of Daun Penh district said his workers had cut down 700 umbrella trees so

far and "will continue to cut down more of them". A total of 1,300 trees have

been felled to date across the capital, but nobody is certain quite how many are

left.

One angry kiosk owner gave the Post her reaction after the

municipality chopped down her 2-year-old umbrella tree.

"Previously the

government encouraged people to plant and preserve trees, but now they have cut

mine down. I will never again plant another tree," she said.

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