Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Village leader confesses to illegal logging allowances in Siem Reap

Village leader confesses to illegal logging allowances in Siem Reap

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The village chief and 10 villagers were involved in the crime in Skun village, Tbeng commune. Photo supplied

Village leader confesses to illegal logging allowances in Siem Reap

Banteay Srei district governor Khim Finan has issued fines of 12 million riel ($3,000) to 10 villages and a formal warning to a village chief for illegal logging in Skun village, Tbeng commune, Banteay Srei district, Siem Reap province.

The move was taken after Finan visited the flooded forest and it became apparent the village chief and 10 villagers were involved in the crime.

Finan told The Post on Monday that he had also required the Skun village chief, Khy Sokhonn, to write a letter of confession over failing to report the 6ha flooded forest land clearing in the local area he was in control of.

He said the 10 others who plundered the flooded land were required to sign the agreement to cease logging and return the land to the state.

The 10 now have to pay the 12 million riel deforestation charge as stated by the forest administration law by February 22. The money will then be returned to the community in Skun village in a bid to restore the flooded forest.

“The first culprit was the official in Skun village who did not report it, despite the logging activities taking place over a week in the area under his control.

“It wasn’t until the villagers lost trust in him, that they decided to report it directly to me. I have asked the village chief to issue a letter of acknowledgement for his mistake and for failing to do his job properly.

“The letter will form the basis for the commune council to review his role according to the law and be kept on record if there are any further mistakes in the future.

“For all subsequent offences in this district from today onwards, the district administration will pursue strict legal action regardless of the people or officials involved in a crime,” Finan said.

On February 12, Sokhonn wrote a letter to Finan, in which he pleaded guilty in failing to report an offence. He admitted that earlier in February, he allowed Kham Hoeun and his associates to enter flooded forests illegally, occupy the land, and infringe on the natural forest, a vital resource in the district.

“I fully admit that I have neglected to monitor this incident and from this day on, I promise to report offences, obey the law, and serve the people with the utmost responsibility,” Sokhonn wrote.

Sokhonn could not be reached for further comment.

The provincial Adhoc human rights coordinator, Chan Chamroeun, expressed support for the move by the authorities. However, he urged the implementation of the law to be transparent and fair.

He said in Siem Reap as a whole, there were many land grab cases and most of those involved were high-ranking officials and the wealthy.

“In Siem Reap, it is not only the village chief in question, but it is also other powerful people who encroach on state land,” he said.

“The penalty on the people should be proportional. If the case is small, the perpetrator should be warned or made to sign contracts to cease their activities. Issuing fines to poor people will not resolve the issue and just push them further into poverty,” Chamroeun said.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • Nestle’s debut may spur dairy market

    Leading confectionery manufacturer Nestle plans to invest in Cambodia by setting up an operation in the near future, a move majorly hailed by local dairy farmers as a means of boosting the fresh milk market in the Kingdom. During a visit by a delegation led

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement