Minister to Be Questioned Over Logging

Mines and Energy Minister Suy Sem has been summoned by the National Assembly for questioning over claims of illegal logging around the Lower Sesan II Dam site in Stung Treng province, a senior CPP lawmaker said Monday.

“Samdech National Assembly President [Heng Samrin] signed a letter to invite [Mr. Sem] to be questioned on June 19 about logging at Sesan II Dam and other problems,” Cheam Yeap said.

“We have sent the letter to Samdech Prime Minister [Hun Sen] this morning but Samdech just came back from abroad so he has not replied yet.”

Mr. Yeap said it was the first such summons of a government minister by the fifth mandate of the National Assembly.

Concerns about logging around the Lower Sesan II reservoir were aired in the National Assembly last week by former Stung Treng Governor Loy Sophat, who is now a ruling party lawmaker.

Mr. Sophat told the parliament last week that while authorities were spending time and other resources chasing small-time illegal loggers, large-scale timber dealers were escaping punishment.

Mr. Sophat said the companies given the right to clear the 36,000 hectare area at the confluence of the Sekong and Sesan rivers—Cambodian conglomerate Royal Group, chaired by well-connected businessman Kith Meng, and China’s Hydrolancang International Energy—were overseeing logging from outside the concession.

A subsidiary of Mr. Meng’s Royal Group, Ang & Associates Lawyer Co. Ltd., has been given the contract to clear the land.

Mr. Sophat claimed the firm was logging inside the nearby and protected Virachey National Park and then bringing the timber onto the Sesan concession, where it was impossible to identify its origin.

Logging was temporarily halted in October after similar reports of illegal logging. CPP lawmaker Mr. Yeap said Monday that Hen Neng, the older brother of Mr. Hun Sen, had been sent to investigate the claims, but declined to offer any more details.

Mr. Neng could not be reached for comment Monday.

[email protected]

Related Stories

Latest News

The Weekly DispatchA weekly newsletter from The Cambodia Daily delivering news, analysis and opinion to your inbox. Published every Friday at 11:30am. Sign up today.