Watchdog Seeks King’s Help

To impose more pressure on the government, the environmental watchdog Global Witness has presented its latest findings on rampant illegal logging to King Norodom Sihan­ouk.

Patrick Alley, a Global Witness director, said his London-based group met with King Sihanouk in Siem Reap for 45 minutes Mon­day. “The King expressed his sup­­port for the work of Global Wit­­­ness,” Alley said at a press con­ference Tuesday.

The Global Witness report, the first to be printed in Khmer, discloses the scale of illegal logging during the recent dry season and identifies the major logging companies, officials and businessmen involved. Both the World Bank and Global Witness predict Cam­bodia’s forests will be commercially destroyed within five years at current cutting rates.

“We hope that with the active participation of the King, the Khmer translation [of the report], the World Bank report and the support of the international community, we can prevent the de­struction of the Cambodian forest,” Alley said.

Global Witness also recently charged that $50 million worth of logs are being illegally exported to Thailand via Laos.

“It is not true at all, and we ask Global Witness to provide en­ough evidence in this case,” Ag­riculture Minister Tao Seng Huor said Tuesday. He also denied al­legations of his in­volvement in licensing illegal log exports.

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