Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Ex-Environment Minister Says Deforestation Exaggerated

Mok Mareth 
By Ben Woods and Aun Pheap
The Cambodia Daily, November 27, 2013 

Former Environment Minister Mok Mareth on Tuesday accused the media of having “twisted the truth” in reporting on illegal logging in Ratanakkiri province, where rights groups and independent forestry monitors say the natural environment is being pillaged and ethnic minority communities impoverished by illegal loggers and agro-industry companies.

In a letter dated Tuesday, Mr. Mareth, a CPP member of parliament who currently chairs the National Assembly’s Third Commission on Environment and Water Resources, said recent media coverage of illegal logging in the northeast had also “twisted public opinion, especially the youth, about the government’s success in encouraging conservation and investment on the fringes of conservation zones for the benefit of the nation and the people.”
Human rights groups say the rate of logging by private land concession holders across the country has risen sharply in the past year.

Earlier this month, local officials in Ratanakkiri’s Lumphat district found thousands of pieces of luxury-grade timber stockpiled at a sawmill on a land concession owned by Daun Penh Agrico Co. Ltd.

District and commune officials said they were powerless to stop such logging, which they alleged was conducted outside the company’s official 8,825-hectare economic land concession in the Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary.
Ratanakkiri provincial governor Pao Ham Phan explained the logging, saying that the company had been given a second, “unofficial” concession in another location in the sanctuary.

In his letter Tuesday, Mr. Mareth, whose former ministry is responsible for authorizing land concessions inside conservation zones, such as in Lumphat, argued that the government is protecting the country’s forests and simultaneously encouraging economic growth.

“In the management and use of natural resources for economic development, the Cambodian government takes into account of the economic efficiency, environmental protection, management and wise use of natural resources,” the former minister wrote.

“I think that the policy ambition to confiscate land concession[s] for agri-industry, eco-tourism, special economic zone[s] and resort center[s] is the loss for the country,” he added.

Mr. Mareth did not mention the Lumphat sanctuary in his letter.

However, he argued that companies operating inside another conservation zone, Ratanakkiri’s 332,500-hectare Virachey National Park, were doing little harm to the natural environment.

Land concession firms “just remove the scattered remaining trees” from their concessions and “clear the area for agri-industry…under strict management and monitoring of the park rangers and local authorities.”

The province’s indigenous communities benefit directly from such companies, he claimed.

“Indeed, the minority groups get job[s] as workers and technicians from the development investment which improve[s] their family income which contributes to [a] reduction of population movement from the country to other countries for job[s],” he wrote.

Forest monitors and those working with indigenous communities Tuesday rejected the minister’s rosy appraisal of the situation in Ratanakkiri.

Chhay Thy, provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc in Ratanakkiri, said that companies with government-issued land concessions are only a detriment to local residents.

“Before, villagers were practicing sustainable farming. But now, they have lost their farmland because the private companies confiscated the land from them,” Mr. Thy said.

“We have seen the living standards of those people decrease, and now they are facing difficulties finding sources of revenue,” he added.

Pierre-Yves Clais, a longtime resident of Ratanakkiri and the owner of the Terres Rouge Lodge in Banlung district, also painted a very different picture of the situation in the Virachey park.

“All that’s happening around the park is sheer destruction and the local authorities are doing nothing but turning a blind eye on it,” Mr. Clais wrote in an email Tuesday.

Sek Sophorn, national project coordinator at the International Labor Organization, which works to protect the communal property rights of 114 ethnic minority groups in seven provinces, said that indigenous people are particularly vulnerable to the effects of a large-scale agro-industry.

“Their lives depend on the forest around their communities, and those forests have been destroyed,” Mr. Sophorn said.

“I see that the companies gain a lot of income from logging the trees; that is the main goal, [but] indigenous communities are suffering,” he added.

A report released by environmental watchdog Global Witness in May said Ratanakkiri’s ethnic minorities blamed Vietnamese-held land concessions for impoverishing their communities.

“In every community visited by Global Witness, people described how their standard of living had been damaged by HAGL’s [Hoang Anh Gia Lai] subsidiaries taking their land and forest,” Global Witness wrote. HAGL and its subsidiary firms hold some 46,370 hectares of concession land in Ratanakkiri, about 5 percent of the province’s total land area, Global Witness wrote.

A study published in the journal Science earlier this month found that Cambodia experienced the fifth-highest rate of deforestation in the world.


Anonymous said...

it's good to hear directly from the one in real charge there, instead of hearsay from biased reporters, etc. i can understand the former minister of environment saying that " the other policy ambition to confiscate land concessions for agri-industry, eco-tourism, special economic zones and resort center is the loss of the country." meaning there are conflict interest between gov't and monitors and other special interest NGOs whose reports tend more towards bias against gov't policy. which make sense to say that deforestation was extremely exaggerated by reporters of special interest groups, and so on!

well, my point is, it is good to hear from the horse's mouth, not just the biased reporters' exaggeration. that's all! this is what i think a balanced news reports on cambodia.

Anonymous said...

Mok Mareth = YOUN

Anonymous said...

CPP Crooks are liars!

If he can prove exactly what he said not just running his mouth then I believe it since it was just one person reported this problem.

Anonymous said...

One of Mok Mareth room's mate at ChamKa Dong told me that Mok Mareth is very rich from corruption. He cannot afford to build houses and buy luxury cars with current salary. He is a big Crooks. He can afford to get what he wants.

He bragged to his former room mate that CPP will win election because Honn Xen is very smart man. Actually Hoon Xen robbed and stole election.

Anonymous said...

10:10am, oh really! you have dna to prove that? are you saying you are pure khmer = pure evil? i think people are more afraid of pure evil than you preaching hate!

anyway, good luck being a lone hater! cambodia in this day and age embraces diversity and education and tolerance, no hater and jungle law is allowed anymore in cambodia, if you don't like cambodia's new rule, then just stay put at your adopted overseas homes because cambodia only wants good, educated, professional, ethical people to help us develop, advance, grow, etc. cambodia is not your type, so leave cambodia alone for a change!

Anonymous said...

This idiot never go out to look at the forests. He only sit in his office and make prediction.

Anonymous said...

MR Chay SA MEET, who is Ex-Minister of Environment's brother in law, he is the one has been involved with deforestation in Cambodia, Mr Chay Sa Meet graduated from Russia in 1991, serving as Head Department of Wildlife Protection, this guy is one of the top 5 involved with deforestation in Cambodia, must face and hang those people one day ?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Just love the jet black epitomizes the mentality of most older cpp men, which refuses to acknowledge that they are fast aging.

Anonymous said...

Mok Mareth is a bullshitter! This idiot does not make any sense. It is too late for him to say that. The forests in Cambodia have been destroyed the evil Yuon/Vietnamese and Chinese businessmen who are very illegal contractors under the illegal CPP government led by Vietnamese puppet Hun Sen (who was illegally installed by Vietnamese masters in Hanoi after Mr. Penn Sovan was ousted and put in jail in Hanoi).

Khmer Yeurng

Anonymous said...


Mok Mareth is a bullshitter! YES, HE IS A YUON/VIETNAMESE BASTARD HIDING IN CPP GOVERNMENT IN PHNOM PENH, MAKING A PROFIT FOR HIMSELF AND SERVING HIS YUON/VIETNAMESE INTEREST. This idiot does not make any sense. It is too late for him to say that. The forests in Cambodia have GRADUALLY been destroyed BY the evil Yuon/Vietnamese and Chinese businessmen who are very illegal contractors under the illegal CPP government led by Vietnamese puppet Hun Sen (who was illegally installed by Vietnamese masters in Hanoi after Mr. Penn Sovan was ousted and put in jail in Hanoi).

Khmer Yeurng

12:20 PM

Anonymous said...

Ah niss pleuh kwak and thlong like his boss.
You are acting or sleeping?

Anonymous said...

AH Mok Mareth has four eyes and he still can't see deforestation in Cambodia! Now just imagine AH HUN SEN got only one eye and what can he see? AH HUN SEN can't even see his own dick let alone see the deforestation in Cambodia!

Anonymous said...

ពួកខ្ញុំយួន ក្រៅពីចេះប្រកែកនូវអំពើដែលបាន
ប្រព្រឹត្ត ចេះលួច ប្លន់ កេងប្រវ៉ាញ់សម្បត្តិរដ្ឋ ដីធ្លីប្រជាពលរដ្ឋ កាប់សម្លាប់ វាយដំប្រជាពលរដ្ឋ
ស្លូតត្រង់ ។ល។ តើនៅចេះធ្វើអ្វីទៀត ? ។ ពួក
វាកាប់សម្លាប់ប្រជាពលរដ្ឋស្លូតត្រង់រាប់មិនអស់ លួចប្លន់សម្បត្តិជាតិ សម្បត្តិរដ្ឋទាំងប៉ុន្មានតាំង
ពីឆ្នាំ ១៩៧៥ មក ពួកវាដែលព្រមទទួលពី
អង្កាល់ ? ។ មានពួកឃាតករ ចោរប្លន់ លក់
ជាតិ ក្បត់ជាតិណាមួយព្រមទទួលសារភាពពី
អង្កាល់ ។ សូម្បីតែពួកចោរកំបុិចកំប៉ុក ឬ ឃាតករធម្មតា តូចតាច ចាប់បានភស្តុតាង មានសាក្សីហើយផងម៉េច ពួកវាមិនព្រមសារ
ភាពដោុងាយផង ។ លុះត្រាតែដាក់ដាក់ទណ្ឌ
កម្មទើបព្រមឆ្លើយ ទម្រាំតែពួកខ្ញុំយួនអស់នេះ
ពួកវាមានប្រាក់ មានអំណាច មានអាវុធក្នុងដៃ
មានឯកសណ្ឋាន ធវ្ើម្ត៉េចនឹងព្រមសារ
ភាព ? ។ មានតែពួកគ្មានខួរ គ្មានប្រាជ្ញា ល្ងង់ខ្លៅ ឬ គ្នាវា បក្សពួកវា ទទួលលាភសការៈ
ពីពួកវា ទើបជឿថា ការប្រកែកនេះជាការពិត ជាការត្រឹមត្រូវ ។

ពួកអាកំសាក អសមត្តភាព គ្មានការទទួលខុស
ត្រូវ គួរតែទៅស្លាប់ទៅប្រសើជាង ។

Anonymous said...

I heard rumor said CPP Mok Mareth is the first person who opened the bank in Cambodia. Even the minister in the old day can't support their family in the 60, but this guy has money to open the bank. He is also called himself a doctor,but actually he even doesn't have a bachelor degree because he was busy with Khmer Rouge while he studied in France. So how come he got a PHD? May be from Hanoi like his boss, Ah Sen.

He can't lie what his credential is because his classmates live in the US and holds a real PHD.