In addition to the prepared text, to preside over the inauguration of the Morodok Techo Building of the Ministry of Environment and the opening of the annual review conference on environment of 2015 and directives setting for 2016, Samdech Techo Hun Sen gave his impromptu comments as followed on a number of topics:
Say Sam Al – First Minister Asked for Transference of Functions
Please allow me to take this opportune moment to speak a little on this matter. First of all, I convey my sincere appreciation to HE Say Sam Al, Minister of Environment, who, in a period of over 30 years that I lead the Royal Government, is the first Minister requesting for transference of functions between ministries and release of some functions to others. Habitually, (ministers) are embracing power for their ministries always. This Minister has done it differently. He is looking for a clear-cut package of functions. I am looking for such reform. I appreciate that and hope other ministers will not embrace works but delegate them to sub-national level in a speedy manner.
In relation to transference of functions, I already had a report from Deputy Prime Minister HE Keat Chhon, who led the meeting. I think that we should not wait any longer. For example, soon enough, we will transfer areas provided for investment by the Ministry of Environment to the Ministry of Agriculture to oversee them. That is for the sake of exploitation. Areas ruled and protected by the Ministry of Agriculture will need to return to the Ministry of Environment. We already did by a sub-decree to transform a zone in Punnhea Krek district along the border with Vietnam into a protective one. I am asking HE Keat Chhon to expedite the work […]
I may as well share a piece of news. In our reform effort concerning the economic land concession in less than a year, we already have completed the task. Among over two million hectares of land provided for private investment, both in agriculture and environment, we have already conducted a thorough checking. We have recalled nearly one million hectares. Only 1.9 million hectares of land will continue with investments. It seems conflicts with people over land issue almost disappear. The remaining land need to resolve problems with people and some may be subjected to further confiscation. Under the leadership of Deputy Prime Minister Bin Chhin, together with HE Im Chhun Lim, HE Ouk Rabun, HE Say Sam Al, land given out by the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Environment, have been taken back and will be disposed for our people’s access to social land concession.
Local Authority to Suppress Forest Crimes
I hope that in the near future, when rubber and other industrial crops grow above the ground, they will provide forest coverage and economic interest. We take it as great pain when some cried out about deforestation. We agree that act of deforesting must be suppressed as crimes. If small bushes are there, how can one plant rubber? When we clear them for that purpose, some took advantage and open propaganda attacks. They did the same in Malaysia to grow rubber and palm oil. Did they not have forest before? They did. It was the same in Thailand or in Indonesia. However, I disagree with overall deforestation. It seems that there has been a new forest crime reported on TV this morning … to claim land.
As for changing how we call the Ministry, we can wait. Transference of functions and job reference need to go first. We need to change, if it is a requirement, the royal decree to transfer those lands or functions from environment to agriculture, for instance. As far as Kbal Chhay area in the province of Sihanouk is concerned, a protective area, we need to take back from the Ministry of Agriculture and place it under supervision of the Ministry of Environment. Let you two Ministries do the job. There is no need to involve the committee of HE Bin Chhin as it is to be dissolved since the land checking has completed. We have taken back land that need to and those that will continue have a timeframe set only for 50 years according to our civilian law.
I am calling on local authorities to work strictly and not to wait for order from Phnom Penh. Anything in your area, you should be aware of them. Drug could be difficult to find as some of us, me included, would not know what they are like. However, as far as forest crimes are concerned, they involve huge trucks. Where have all eyes of soldiers, police, military police, forest administration, and environment gone?
“Demanding for More Power, Asking Prime Minister to Act” When Problems Arise
I am so happy with our reforms and we must do them … If there is something we do not cover, let us fill them in. If there is a need to amend law, let us just do it. In my tenure, I have come across ministers who demanded for more power for their ministries … I used to tease HE Mok Mareth, former Minister of Environment, who asked for more power but when problems arose, he asked for intervention from the Prime Minister. As in the case of a provincial official of Kompot who built his house into the valley of Toek Tchou, he asked for my intervention. I told him “I have given you the martial sword, you can’t ask me to use it for you.” That is why I am asking you ministers not to gather that much or you will not be able to work it out and resort to Prime Minister’s power […] Well this is what is created by legal mechanism relating to the establishment of institution and there would not be many articles in it. The sub-decree of organization and functioning of ministries will be more details. It is the Royal Government’s competency and there is no need to bring that to the National Assembly’s attention. My idea is that we need not to wait for long. The Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Agriculture will need to discuss their functions, what need to exchange and where. Let us act. Do not wait./.