“Forestry Crimes Are Activities of National Betrayal” – Sunday, 11.4.2010
The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 659
When Prime Minister Hun Sen spoke out against forestry crimes with extremely strong words – though forestry crimes used to go on regularly and since a long time, as the frequent descriptions in the Khmer press showed – it was understood by sectors of the police and of the military that he really expected change. Illegally cut wood used to be transported illegally – and some journalists who had tried to denounce some of these activities had been hindered or even harassed. And when the UK based organization Global Witness had published a documentation about illegal deforestation going on in Cambodia, the former head of the Forestry Department, Mr. Ty Sokun, had said that this documentation writes lies on every page.
We repeat here from The Mirror of 27.3.2010:
“During a cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen affirmed the position of the government regarding the campaign to strongly intercept forestry crimes, and not to give up. Although there may be barriers against it made of rock or of iron, any obstacles must be broken down.
“During the cabinet meeting yesterday, which took from morning to noon, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen spoke to all members of the Royal Government, saying that all related institutions, whether on the national or on regional levels, have to cooperate to intercept forestry crimes, and to reach the ringleaders. All authorities have to investigate this at every place to find the offenses and to arrest the offenders, the principal leaders, and other relevant persons, to be prosecuted without any exception regardless of how powerful those persons are, and whatever their relationships, because the suppression of forestry crimes is the suppression of criminal groups – their activities have to be considered as activities of national betrayal.
“Also, Samdech Hun Sen knows that those who use to do such wood trading are backed by high ranking officials, but this time, no matter how high their positions are, they will be jailed.”
As a result, there was a constant stream of related articles during the past week in the Khmer press which show that the Prime Minister’s words had initiated many activities and reactions. The Mirror carried some of them as examples; especially the situation of Mr. Ty Sokun received many comments:
- A Wood Storehouse of the Canadia Bank in the Cultural Village [of Siem Reap] Was Raided, and Hundreds of Cubic Meters of Wood Were Found
- As a Result of the Hot Campaign to Combat Forestry Crimes, Ty Sokun Was Removed and Chheng Kim Song Was Appointed to Replace Him
- After Mr. Ty Sokun Was Removed from His Position, Documents Relating to Irregular Measures Were Disclosed
- Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Removes Ty Sokun and Warned Other Officials
- A 45-Seater Bus Was Illegally Loaded with 68 Pieces of Ebony [the driver was arrested – Siem Reap]
- Considering Forestry Crimes, Ty Sokun Should Not Be Allowed to Hold a Position, but Should Be Punished according to the Law
- Ty Sokun Was Removed from His Position and the Newly Appointed Forestry Chief Was Warned [by Prime Minister Hun Sen] that He Would Be Jailed if He Cannot Intercept Forestry Crimes [Mr. Ty Sokun said that his ability was limited and most perpetrators have relations with high ranking officials and with the rich, and they often warned forestry officials]
- The Prime Minister Openly Announced to Remove Mr. Ty Sokun from the Position of Director General of the Forestry Administration of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries
- The Wood Stored by the Owner of the [Siem Reap] Cultural Village Was Not 200 Cubic Meters, but More Than 600 Cubic Meters
- The Dangkao District Authorities Found a Wood Processing Workshop [run illegally] in the Piphup Thmey Block of Buildings in Dangkao district of Oknha Hong Piv [and discovered hundreds of cubic meters of luxury grade wood – Phnom Penh]
- A Truck Overturned and More Than 40 Cubic Meters of Ebony Fell on the Street, but the Head of the Forestry Department and Representatives of Other Authorities Did Not Dare to Touch It [an official who asked not to be named said that the wood belongs by an Oknha who has a license to transport it; the wood was to be transported from Pursat to Phnom Penh – Kompong Chhnang]
- Civil Society Supports the Crackdown on Forestry Crimes by the Prime Minister [“and some associations suggested that former Director General of the Forestry Administration Ty Sokun must be bought to a court to be convicted according to the law”]
The last two headlines point to some concerns, which start to be raised again more, as time passes.
Obviously, some lower level servants of the state are not so sure if the words of the Prime Minister will really protect them, if the do what he said they should do. We remember his words: “All authorities have to investigate this at every place to find the offenses and to arrest the offenders, the principal leaders, and other relevant persons, to be prosecuted without any exception regardless of how powerful those persons are, and whatever their relationships.”
But there is not only the fear of some people who actively implement the new directives. There is also starting some questioning how seriously the Prime Minsters words can be taken for what they say – on the one hand. But on the other, he is also quoted to have said to Mr. Ty Sokun and to his successor Mr. Chheng Kim Son, that Mr. Ty Sokun failed in his duties, so he is removed, but he is now appointed as an under-secretary of state at the Ministry of Agriculture; but, he is quoted to have added to Mr. Chheng Kim Son, if he too would fail: “Jail.”
So the question in The Mirror of 28.3.2020 cannot yet be put to rest: “Another Thunderstorm – or the Start of a Climate Change?”
Please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.