Gov’t Shutters Rubber Plant In Ratanakkiri

Minister of Agriculture Chan Sa­run on Tuesday ordered the closure of a newly established Vietnamese-own­ed rubber tree processing factory in Ratanakkiri province, saying workers had been cutting down trees on state-owned land without permission.

In a written order, Chan Sarun de­manded that the Hoang Thang Com­pany immediately remove equip­ment from the site in Banlung district where it has been operating.

The ministry’s rubber plantation de­partment issued a report on May 17 stating that the company, which open­ed in April, had been cutting down old rubber trees without permission from the ministry. Invest­igators visiting the plant had found one machine for refining trees, 10 sawmills and 100 rubber trees that had been illegally cut down, the report stated.

The company requested permission to process rubber trees from Ratanakkiri Governor Muong Poy, who agreed on April 20, according to the report, though it added that the Ag­ri­culture Ministry’s approval was needed.

Muong Poy said the company had never received his permission. “The Agriculture Ministry closed it. It did not have a license at all,” he said.

Hem Sophal, a member of the Ag­riculture Ministry’s rubber plantation registration committee, said the factory was built on more than three hectares of rubber plantation in La Bansiek commune.

An unnamed RCAF official representing the company could not be contacted for comment Tuesday. How­ever, the Agriculture Ministry re­port quoted the military officer as saying in a meeting that the company had received permission from vet­eran CPP lawmaker Bou Thang, who rep­resents Ratanakkiri.

Contacted by telephone, Bou Thang said he had suggested that the Hoang Thang Company cut down old rubber trees on privately owned land, not on a state-owned plan­tation. He added that he was opposed to the closure of the company and was working to bring the company into compliance with the law. “I do not agree with this closure,” he said, adding that he now planned to bring the matter to the attention of Prime Minister Hun Sen.





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