In the second day of debate on the much-anticipated forestry law at the National Assembly, opposition lawmakers accused the government of corruption and what they allege is the mishandling of forest controls.
Several Sam Rainsy Party and Funcinpec parliamentarians said it would be no use to create new laws if the government is incapable of implementing them. The parliamentarians said they were getting tired of the government’s inability to prevent illegal logging.
National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh cautioned some lawmakers that it’s better for the country to have a law than to have nothing. “Our crucial mistake is that the lawmakers never follow up with enforcement of the law,” he said.
Irritated by the lawmakers’ comments, the prince then warned he would not accept future offers to be assembly president “even if pleaded to do so.”
The lawmakers also called on the government to return 21 hectares of land used by a Kompong Cham rubber plantation to 110 protesting families. The land was part of 1,000 hectares the government took from the families and gave to the state for research, said Funcinpec lawmakers Khim Chamroeun and Mon Sophan.
Lawmakers also debated the use of wood for cooking fires, with one Funcinpec lawmaker urging the government to help people in the provinces seek alternatives to wood-derived charcoal.
Minister of Agriculture Chan Sarun said 80 percent to 90 percent of Cambodians burn wood for their main source of energy.
The assembly approved the first 18 chapters of the draft forestry law, delegating the power of forest management responsibilities to the ministries of agriculture and environment.
The approved chapters say forest management is under the control of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Environment will run national parks and other protected areas.
Under the provision, the Ministry of Agriculture has the power to cooperate with the Ministry of Environment on enforcement activities of all forest offenses that occur within protected areas.