Top Ratanakiri forestry official replaced

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Illegal logging in Prek Proloung commune, Prek Prasap district, Kratie province on 12 August 2009 (Photo: Or Phearith, RFA)

21 April 2010
By Ratha Visal
Radio Free Asia
Translated from Khmer by Heng Soy
Click here to read the article in Khmer

The ministry of Agriculture had replaced Youkan Vimean, its top forestry official for the province of Ratanakiri, after it discovered numerous illegal cases involving precious wood in the region.

The announcement of the replacement took place on Tuesday 20 April at the Ratanakiri provincial office under the presidency of Chan Savuth, the under-secretary of state of the ministry of Agriculture. Vong Sok Serey, another provincial forestry official, took over Youkan Vimean’s position.

Besides provincial TV reporters and photographers for the ministry of Agriculture, no other reporters are allowed inside the building to report this event.

Youkan Vimean said that he does not have a positive feelings about this replacement: “This is a re-organization of my department where there is a replacement of working officials.”

Vong Sok Serey declined to comment, claiming that he is busy in a meeting and that he just took over his duty.

However, an anonymous provincial official indicated that the replacement took place under order from Hun Xen in order to reform the local forestry leadership to provide efficient forestry work.

The same anonymous source indicated also that Vong Sok Serey was the former top forestry official for Stung Treng province. Youkan Vimean will be transferred to the forestry department.

Ratanakiri officials indicated that about 600 to 700 cubic meters of all sorts of precious wood logs were confiscated from various hiding houses, located both in farms and in the woods in all the province’s districts, starting form March 2010.

Pen Bonna, a facilitator and investigator for the Adhoc human rights group for Ratanakiri province, said that it is time for a replacement in order to reform the protection of forests which are destroyed by the thousands of hectares for private interest.

Pen Bonna said: “He is not the only one, it also involves authorities and local officials as well. In some areas, we received reports that logs are still being hidden there, and illegal logging is still taking place.”

Pao Horm Phan, the Ratanakiri provincial governor, asked the population to cooperate and report all instances of illegal logging to the authority so that they may be taken care of.

Pao Horm Phan said: “If they [public] see it, let them report to us. We are searching every day and the work is still in progress.”

For the entire country, report of illegal precious wood log confiscation indicated that about 3,000 cubic meters of logs were confiscated during police raids since the beginning of March. However, Pen Bonna said that several thousands of cubic meters of precious wood were illegally logged and transported to Vietnam along the international border gate in O’Yadaw district, and to other destinations inside Cambodia between January and March 2010. Currently, there are still several hundreds of cubic meters of precious wood logs hidden on farms and in businesses and private houses belonging to some of the local officials.


Post a Comment