Lawmakers Criticize Logging

The National Assembly has issued a letter to Minister of Agriculture Chan Sarun, demanding to know why logging continues in Siem Reap and Oddar Meanchey provinces with the protection of local military chiefs.

The letter, signed by National Assembly second deputy president Nguon Nhil, was based on a report from the government-appointed logging monitor Global Witness that stated the military has been moving out logs that had been cut up to two years ago in a protected wildlife area in Svay Leu district, Siem Reap province.

“Many cubic meters of logs were hidden in the Kulen mountain area in early 2000,” the letter quotes the Global Witness report as stating. “These logs were controlled by MP Sieng Nam and high ranking military officials.”

National Assembly members were angered by the report’s depiction of logging, saying it “makes nonsense of the prime minister’s determination to get rid of anarchic logging.”

The only legal cutting in Cambodia was formerly being done by commercial logging companies working within special zones where they had purchased 30-year logging rights, under an agreement signed by the government in 1994.

But Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered a moratorium on those commercial loggers late last year out of concern the logging was worsening floods. The moratorium has been in effect since Jan 1.

The letter was sent just days after a report issued by the Sam Rainsy Party claiming illegal logging has continued despite the government’s claim it has been stamped out.

The report, which draws on logging accounts published in newspapers, lists incidents over the past year.

The accounts included one of an army general who allegedly allowed logging in Kompong Cham province in order to build barracks. A task force of anti-logging officials said the general was selling the trees to timber dealers.

A consultant to the forestry monitoring project said Sunday the cutting described in the Sam Rainsy Party report has continued.



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