Hitting back at critics who have questioned large differences in the reporting of Cambodia’s sand exports, a Mines and Energy Ministry spokesman on Tuesday urged Cambodians to take pride in their natural resource.
“We should be proud that our sand is taken for use everywhere in the world,” spokesman Dith Tina said on Tuesday on the sidelines of a public forum on the country’s sand exports.
“We should congratulate ourselves and not think that when we see sand being used in another country it means they stole our sand.”
From 2005 to 2015, Singapore’s government reported importing over 60 million more tons of Cambodian sand than the mining ministry tracked as exports, fueling speculation of corruption in an industry that environmentalists say has destroyed coastal ecosystems.
The ministry said on Tuesday it had suspended sand exports in October, though ministry spokesman Chhe Lidin gave a November stop date in an email on Monday.
Singapore’s government said it had stopped accepting Cambodian sand while the ban remained in place.
Mr. Tina repeated on Tuesday the ministry’s line that the figures, compiled by the U.N., failed to accurately capture the country’s sand trade.