Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday that he instructed the Council of Ministers to drop a draft royal decree outlining the massive physical boundaries of the Tonle Sap Basin Authority because it would have caused “territorial turmoil.”
In a speech made at the Royal School of Administration, the premier explained why the draft decree, which would have given the authority jurisdiction over 15 provinces, was rejected on May 29.
“It causes territorial turmoil,” the prime minister said. “Probably due to the word basin, [the authority] gets the Dangrek mountains, Preah Vihear temple, Tamoan temple and Phnom Yat,” he added, estimating that the proposed boundaries of the authority would have put 45 percent of Cambodia’s geography under control of the mega-body.
“That’s why I had to kick it out. The scope of Tonle Sap should be listed as a sub decree to make it easier to revise,” Hun Sen said, adding that the word “basin” should be replaced with “river” in the authority’s name. “However, it is crucial to form a supreme council for the Tonle Sap River, or a Tonle Sap authority,” he said.
In reference to media reports of the undefined responsibilities of the authority, Hun Sen said: “It is said that no one gives any elaboration; now the prime minister is explaining this moment through the television screen.”
However, the prime minister did not offer any further information on the authority’s “roles and duties for coordination of the management, conservation and development of the Tonle Sap basin areas,” as broadly defined in the 2007 royal decree that established the authority.
Long Kheng, core area director for the Tonle Sap Conservation Project, and a joint employee of the Environment Ministry and Wildlife Conservation Society, said Wed-
nesday that the prime minister’s announcement might help to clear up some confusion between the authority and the many ministries involved.
“If they make the area smaller, maybe less overlap then,” he said.