More Than 3,000 Luxury Logs Found in Wildlife Sanctuary

22 Oct

By: Mech Dara,The Cambodia Dailly,22 October 2014

Police and environment officers in Mondolkiri province on Sunday confiscated more than 3,000 lengths of luxury-grade timber found inside a wildlife sanctuary but have yet to determine if it belongs to a Chinese company with a land concession in the area.

Provincial police and officers from Mondolkiri’s environment department descended on the cache of Thnong logs in Pech Chreada district’s Pou Chrei commune after receiving information from locals, according to district Governor Nguon Saran.

“We still do not know whether the wood belongs to the company or loggers and we need to do more investigating,” Mr. Saran said, declining to name the company.

Thnong can fetch up to $800 per square meter in the provinces and much more in China and Vietnam.

Chhit Sophal, director of the provincial environment department, confirmed that more than 3,000 pieces of timber had been confiscated but shared few details.

“I am only on my way to investigate now,” he said. “I need to get more details to see whether it is company or conservation land.”

Much of Pech Chreada district is part of the Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary, a 22,250-hectare expanse bordered by Vietnam to the east and the Mondolkiri Protected Forest to the north.

Sok Ratha, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said the logs were found inside the sanctuary but outside of the company’s concession, based on what he was told by the villagers who found it.

“We still do not know who owns the wood, but the location that it was found [in] is bordered by an economic land concession held by a Chinese company,” he said.

More prep for Water Festival

22 Oct

By: Chhay Channyda,Phnom Penh Post, 22 October 2014

People walk along the newly paved promenade on the east bank of the Tonle Sap river yesterday. Authorities are suggesting that boaters look for accommodation in pagodas and schools during Water Festival. Pha Lina

Thousands of government forces will be deployed to help with crowd control at this year’s Water Festival, while boaters, who won’t be allowed to camp out in the usual area across the river from the Royal Palace, will be allotted their own places to sleep, according to new measures that were announced by officials.

Kheng Tito, spokesman for the National Military Police, said yesterday that 2,000 members of the military police will be on hand at the ceremony, which starts on November 5 and goes on for three days.

“They will be ready to cooperate with the national police forces to regulate public order and the traffic in the capital,” Tito explained, adding that 1,000 additional military police personnel will assist with first aid in case of an unexpected accident.

“We are preventing a repeat of the old incident from happening again,” he said, referring to a panicked stampede at the 2010 festival in which 353 were killed.

The festival has not been held since, with the government citing floods and the death of King Father Norodom Sihanouk as the reasons for the cancellations.

In years past, those who raced along the Tonle Sap during the festival stayed along the eastern bank of the river. But with the paving of the promenade, boaters have been told to stay in pagodas and schools this year, Long Dimanche, spokesman for City Hall, said last month.

While he didn’t specify the locations, Kem Gunawadh, director general of state-owned broadcaster TVK, said yesterday that there are 10 locations in pagodas, schools and in the Phnom Penh Port area reserved for boaters during the three-day festival.

He added that 1,000 foreign tourists are expected to attend and that the government will advertise the festival on CNN.

“There will also be live concerts by the Ministry of Culture and private companies at Wat Botum, Wat Phnom, across the river in Chroy Changvar and at Freedom Park,” Gunawadh said.

Illegal Loggers Complain to Police Over Wages

22 Oct

By: Saing Soenthrith,The Cambodia Daily, 22 October 2014

22-10-2014

Phnom Penh protest planned over Kampong Speu sugar fight

21 Oct

By: Chhay Channyda,Phnom Penh Post,21 October 2014

Hundreds of villagers in Kampong Speu province, locked in a long-running dispute with a sugar company owned by the wife of powerful businessman and ruling party senator Ly Yong Phat, pledged yesterday to bring their protest to the capital if district authorities are unable to find a solution within two weeks.

The warning came as 200 people filed a petition yesterday with Oral District Hall, calling for intervention in their dispute with Kampong Speu Sugar Company, which led to their eviction in 2011.

Community representative Cheng Sopheap said authorities will be given 15 days to reply positively to the petition.

If not, he said, “we will come to Phnom Penh and protest”.

“They have moved us to a place where there is no water or farm land; it is not a proper compensation. We need our land back,” he said.

Oral District Governor Muong Thy could not be reached for comment yesterday

Dam opposition takes complaint to Malaysia

21 Oct

By: Laignee Barron,Phnom Penh Post,21 October 2014

Six environmental organisations opposing Laos’ controversial Don Sahong hydropower dam yesterday took their complaints to a new level: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia.

In a 23-page letter, the organisations from Cambodia, Thailand and the US collectively requested an investigation into the trans-boundary impacts of the 260-megawatt dam, which is being developed by Malaysian engineering firm Mega First Corporation Berhad.

“Unless the impacts on fish migrations are fully mitigated, and it is unclear if that is possible, the Don Sahong Dam can be expected to significantly reduce the number of migratory fish species that move between Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand,” Ian Baird, an expert in Southeast Asian geography and ecology, said in a statement yesterday.

The Don Sahong, which would lie less than two kilometres north of Cambodia, is the second of nine dams Laos plans to erect on the Mekong mainstream.

The developer’s assessment of the dam’s environmental impacts have been criticised by the World Wildlife Organization, among others, for lacking scientific baseline studies and for not considering its combined effect with multiple dams on downstream communities.

The developer’s team has countered by saying that ongoing scientific monitoring began in 2009 and will continue 10 years after construction finishes.

 

Another protest turns bloody

21 Oct

By: Pech Sotheary,Phnom Penh Post, The Cambodia Daily, 21 October 2014

Authorities attack a villager from Preah Vihear province yesterday in Phnom Penh after a protest regarding an ongoing land dispute turned violent. Vireak Mai

Land protesters from Preah Vihear province who came to Phnom Penh seeking a resolution to their disputes were brutally beaten by security forces yesterday as they attempted to deliver petitions to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

About 100 people representing 333 families in Choam Ksan district’s Kantuot commune and Tbeng Meanchey district’s Palhal commune marched yesterday morning to the Chinese, Russian and Australian embassies before attempting to deliver a petition to Hun Sen’s cabinet.

Within metres of the premier’s home, the protesters were met by barricades guarded by dozens of police and district security guards, armed with batons, stun guns and shields.

“I do not have a house to live in, there is no school or hospital to go to; they have been cleared. Please give land to all of us,” 5-year-old Mey Kanha shouted tearfully through a loud speaker.

When the group attempted to break through the barricades, the security forces chased them away, violently attacking men, women, children and monks, and destroying a tuk-tuk and protest paraphernalia.

Rights group Licadho, which treated many of the injured protesters, said yesterday evening that at least 18 people had been injured to varying degrees in the violence, with an 18-year-old man who had been beaten on the head by the guards sustaining the most serious injuries.

“When disproportionate violence of this kind is used against peaceful protesters, it perpetuates an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in which people are afraid to claim their rights,” said Licadho director Naly Pilorge.

But City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche defended the security guards’ actions.

The protesters “did not get through the barricades normally; they mixed pure water with acid and threw it on the authorities, which is against the law”, he said. “A handful of people who were not the real victims used bad language to insult the top leaders. It was not a protest, it was an incitement to topple [the government], so we had to strengthen the law.” he said.

A bloodied villager from Preah Vihear province is escorted away from a protest in Phnom Penh yesterday after he was hit in the head by authorities. Vireak Mai

No security guards were reported injured and Dimanche was unable to explain his allegations of acid-throwing, which were quickly dismissed by the protesters.

“We did throw water at them but without any acid … and we also did not scold [Hun Sen]; we only asked him to help intervene in the land disputes for us,” said community representative Phan Phoeun.

In a more peaceful protest, more than 200 people from eight communities in danger of losing land due to a railroad project funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) protested outside of its offices.

“We will help bring all of your questions or issues that come through ADB to the government and companies involved [so they can be] discussed and resolved,” said ADB country director Eric Sidgwick.

Tycoons at heart of protests

21 Oct

By: May Titthara, Phnom Penh Post,21 October 2014

Protesting villagers sit in front of the Pursat provincial hall yesterday as Pursat deputy governor Ty Kimtong addresses their concerns over an ongoing land dispute. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Nearly 100 people from separate districts in Pursat province joined forces yesterday to seek a resolution to long-running land disputes with two well-connected companies.

The villagers filed petitions at the provincial hall demanding a resolution to their disputes with Pheapimex Group, owned by the wife of ruling party lawmaker Lao Meng Khin, and MDS International, run by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s adviser Try Pheap.

The Post reported on the findings of an unpublished study earlier this month claiming that Pheap, a tycoon with interests ranging from casinos to cassava, ran a logging scheme involving the transport and sale of laundered rosewood amounting to $220 million in profit over three years.

Members of Pursat’s Veal Veng district charge Pheap’s company with seizing land in 2010 that mostly belongs to veterans’ wives, according to community representative Prak Sophal.

“We demand our land back for farming and we need them to issue land titles to avoid it being appropriated again,” she said.

Pursat’s deputy governor, Khoy Rida, received the petitions and promised to settle the dispute from Kroko district against Pheapimex on October 23, and the one in Veal Veng by November or December.

Pheapimex was granted over 315 hectares in economic land concessions (ELCs) from the government in Pursat and Kampong Chhnang to grow acacias, cassava and other agricultural products.

Even though the provincial government has promised to settle the matter soon, Kroko community representative Lan Sim said she doesn’t trust the system.

“I still think his promise is just a pretext, because this has been going on for years and we never see any resolutions, so I will sleep in front of the provincial hall until October 23 to make sure he keeps his promise”, she said.

“If not, we will go to Phnom Penh.”

To put an end to protracted land disputes, on August 18 Hun Sen said he would take companies to task and create a national commission to evaluate how ELCs given to private companies.

Preah Vihear Protesters Clash With Security Guards in Capital

21 Oct

By: SEK ODOM,The Cambodia Daily, 21 October 2014

21-10-2014-3

Families in Try Pheap Dispute Petition Governor

21 Oct

By: Kuch Narem,The Cambodia Daily,21 October 2014

21-10-2014-2

ADB to Help Find Answers for Railway Families

21 Oct

By: AUN PHEAP,The Cambodia Daily, 21 October 2014

21-10-2014-1

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,809 other followers

%d bloggers like this: