Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - NGO Global Witness hits back at ministry



NGO Global Witness hits back at ministry

NGO Global Witness hits back at ministry

The government’s apparent unwillingness to take seriously evidence of continued large-scale illegal logging orchestrated by the Try Pheap Group is “disappointing”, Global Witness said yesterday.

A report released last week by the UK-based group titled The Cost of Luxury detailed evidence, collected during an eight-month covert investigation in Cambodia and Hong Kong, which suggested that tycoon Try Pheap sat at the helm of a multimillion-dollar timber smuggling network.

Minister of Agriculture Ouk Rabun on Monday dismissed the group’s findings.

“Global Witness does not understand our procedure. In reality, we have clear procedures for exporting timber without any conspiracy,” he said. “If we did [conspire], they could not take pictures of the containers at ports.”

Megan MacInnes, head of the land campaign at Global Witness, said the minister’s response to the evidence amounted to a tacit endorsement of the alleged illegal activities of the Try Pheap Group.

“Global Witness is disappointed by the response from the Minister for Agriculture. We are not the first to publish evidence of the illegal logging operations of Okhna Try Pheap; nor are we the first to raise concerns about the rapid clearance of Cambodia’s remaining forests and the environmental and social impact,” MacInnes said via email yesterday.

“We had hoped that the government would take our evidence seriously, initiate an investigation into the activities of the Try Pheap Group, and take urgent steps to enforce the country’s forest protection laws. Instead, the ministry appears to be yet again stepping in to support Try Pheap and endorse his activities.”

Officials at the Forestry Administration declined to comment, but Ministry of Agriculture spokesman Thun Sarath stood by Rabun’s comments.

“They enforce the law [on the Try Pheap Group]; no problem. The response of the minister is according to the law,” he said, without elaborating.

“When they report to [Rabun], they can take action. When the minister is informed, he can refer the matter to law enforcement. They can make a formal complaint to the minister.”

Representatives of the Try Pheap Group could not be reached.

Soaring demand for luxury hongmu furniture in China drives the trade and has dramatically increased the profits of illegal timber dealers in recent years, according to forest monitors.

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

  • 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

  • Aeon, Micromax partner again for third mall

    AEON Mall (Cambodia) Co Ltd and a locally-owned Micromax Co Ltd have entered into a partnership agreement to develop fibre optic infrastructure for $200 million Aeon Mall 3, which is expected to be opened in 2023. The agreement was signed on June 20 between Masayuki Tsuboya, managing director of