Wednesday, 09 March 2011 21:39 May Titthara
Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay has appealed to National Assembly President Heng Samrin to take measures against the destruction of Prey Lang forest by a Vietnam-based rubber company.
Son Chhay is part of a growing number of people and organisations who have condemned Prey Lang deforestation by CRCK Rubber Development Company.
The Vietnamese firm was awarded a 6,044 hectare land concession in Kampong Thom province’s Sandan district last year.
“Please, National Assembly president, use the power of the legislative branch to stop destroying Khmer forests by Vietnamese companies, in order to preserve what’s left of the forest for the next generation.”
Kampong Thom Deputy Governor Uth Sam An said today he had not seen Son Chhay’s letter.
However, he said CRCK could not be stopped because they had a government-issued licence to use the land for business purposes.
Villagers from Preah Vihear, Kratie, Stung Treng and Kampong Thom provinces – all of which border the 200,000 hectare forest – have protested the destruction of Prey Lang, which they say they depend on for their livelihoods.
Uth Sam An has denied their claims that the forest is community-protected land, saying it belongs to the government.
Villagers who attended a protest last month alleged last week at an NGO Forum press conference that local police in Sandan district collected their names on behalf of CRCK.
Son Chhay’s appeal comes at a time when investment in rubber plantations is on the rise.
The Vietnamese Rubber Enterprise Federation invested US$600 million to grow rubber in the Kingdom when it was awarded 100,000 hectares of concessions in Kampong Thom, Kratie, Stung Treng, Ratanakkiri and Mondulkiri provinces in 2009.
Last June, the 14-company federation invested an additional $200 million in rubber plantations.
VREF’s 14 companies expect to plant rubber on 30,000 hectares in 2011, and an additional 40,000 hectares in 2012.
Le Quang Thung, VREF’s chief of governing council, told The Post last June that VREF might expand its rubber plantations in Cambodia pending future discussions.
“We will invest more on growing rubber in Cambodia if the country is able to give more economic land concessions,” he said.
Prime Minister Hun Sen told a group of graduating university students that the government would strive to protect its forest land against the overdevelopment of rubber plantations.
“Rubber is at a good price, but it is [wrong] for us to cut down the high trees to plant rubber.”