Minister of Agriculture Chan Sarun has been invited to answer questions about alleged forestry abuses on the floor of the National Assembly on Thursday.
Chan Sarun’s appearance at the National Assembly comes as the result of a June 11 letter SRP lawmaker Son Chhay wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen via National Assembly President Heng Samrin, asking that Chan Sarun appear before the National Assembly for questioning.
On June 26, Hun Sen responded that the government supported Son Chhay’s request, and in a Monday statement, Acting National Assembly President Nguon Nhel informed the prime minister that a date had been fixed: Oct 18 at 8 am.
Chan Sarun figured prominently in a controversial June report by forestry watchdog Global Witness, which claimed that a kleptocratic network of power and patronage was decimating the nation’s forests.
The report alleged that Forestry Administration jobs were sold for cash and that illegal permits were issued that facilitated the destruction of Kompong Thom province’s Prey Long forest.
“I will question about the Global Witness report,” Son Chhay said Tuesday. “We want to know the truth,” he said.
If the Global Witness allegations prove true, Son Chhay said he will seek an Assembly vote to remove Chan Sarun from his post. He added that it is the first time since Heng Samrin took over from Prince Norodom Ranariddh as National Assembly president last year that a government official has been called to the floor for questioning.
Chan Sarun could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but he has previously denied any wrongdoing alleged in the report, which was promptly banned by the government.
Agriculture Secretary of State Chan Tong Yves said he was unaware of the National Assembly’s request and declined to comment on the accusations made in the Global Witness report.