Global Witness Accepts Gov’t Debate Challenge

Environmental campaigners Global Witness announced yesterday they had accepted a challenge from Cambodia’s firebrand London envoy Hor Nambora to a public debate on corruption and natural resources management.

In a letter to the Cambodian Embassy in Willesden Green, Global Witness Director Simon Tay­lor said his organization had accepted the challenge made by the Cambodian Embassy in an April 30 statement and proposed that the event be held on June 17.

“We suggest that the event be held at a neutral, public venue in central London,” Mr Taylor wrote. “We are more than happy to provide suggestions for this venue and individuals who may be able to chair the event.”

A man answering the “media liaison” line at the embassy in London yesterday said no one was available to speak to a reporter. Questions sent by e-mail were not immediately answer­ed.

However, Ambassador Mr Nambora, the son of Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, has been at the forefront of government rebuttals of Global Witness investigations since 2007, when he directly called on the organization’s financial backers to cut funding.

The embassy on May 11 said a Global Witness investigation into sand exports to Singapore was “malicious and misleading” and “cheap rubbish.” Beyond blanket denials, the statement did not contain new information.

The Global Witness report released May 11 claimed the Cambodian government had permitted politically connected businessmen to continue environmentally damaging sand exports to Singapore in spite of a moratorium decreed by Prime Minister Hun Sen a year ago.

The Singaporean government subsequently announced that had not been informed of the sand dredging ban through official Cam­bodian channels.

 

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