Selected Comments Samdech Moha Bovor Thipadei Hun Manet, at the stocktaking of 2023 and directives setting for 2024 of the Ministry of Environment [Unofficial Translations]

CMF:

[1]

(1) Development and conservation must go hand in hand. Our people here, as well as billions of people around the world, need an earth that is conducive to coexistence and longevity. Development is necessary to address current issues and needs for the future, but we must also think about maintaining this value and environment. Otherwise, we will be happy in our lives, but our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be in trouble. The important thing therefore is to put in place the current policy to prevent our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren from suffering caused by unfavorable environmental issues as development necessarily improves the lives of our people everywhere and we must move forward […]

Of course, development cannot be a process whereby one can keep both (benefits). For example, the growth of the population requires the expansion of the village. It is not possible that in one district where there are 100 families with 100 hectares of land, when the population grows to 2,000 families and they still have to survive on the 100 hectares of land. Of course, in some places the land is unfavorable, then they have to go vertical. In our country where we have growing population growth, (efforts to cater to the new need would) have some impacts. Either in economic development or industrial demand, sometimes to provide electricity needed, we had to develop hydropower or build transmission lines that affect some places. The same is true in building a bridge as it can affect the flow of water. If we do not build them, we cannot neither connect nor create economic chains. These are just a few examples of the necessities in development […]

(2) We must ensure that our development is long-term and sustainable. This is a key element in a clean, green and sustainable strategy. As we walked in earlier, we saw the greenish presentation. This is what we need to take care of […] the world has already seen climate change. Where it used to rain, there was not enough water. Some places go flooded every year. It has not happened yet in Cambodia. In some countries where it used to be a village 20 years ago, now they are about 3 meters under water. That makes living impossible […]

(3) Cambodia is small. In fact, when it comes to Cambodia’s involvement in causing negative effects on the global environment, emissions are not huge. As members of this planet, however, we must help each other because the earth/environment has no boundaries. Each of us plays a respective role to participate (in protecting the environment) […] (due to this,) the Royal Government has for many terms, and under the leadership of Samdech Techo, the former Prime Minister and several ministries, issued numerous concerned policies, (particularly,) the Ministry of Environment, (the former Minister) HE Say Sam Al, in the previous term, put out many policy frameworks. (the new Minister,) HE Eang Sophalleth carries through these policies […]

We need development, but must consider and ensure that (there is not going to have impacts in doing so). Thus, for projects that may have impacts on the environment, they (4) require an environmental impact assessment, which we sometimes spent millions of dollars (and time) over the years. A hydropower project takes 2-3 years to study. Take for instance the bridge that we are going to build on National Road 50C from Kampong Thom to Kampong Leng is known to everyone that once built, this bridge will improve the economic condition of the people in Kampong Leng district of Kampong Chhnang province. But why do we need to study so long? We need to think about the water currents and its possible impacts on the fish resources. If we do not take responsibility, we will only get the bridge, but it will damage our people’s benefit and the water along the river […]

We are determined not to build any dams on the Mekong River so as not to affect (the environment and the surrounding area), no matter how much electricity is produced. This is an obligation that must be made so that our development can solve both present and future problems […] to preserve the environment for generations to come […] people can make thousands of tons of iron fly in the sky, so it is important that we must have vision and will. (5) The political will of the Royal Government of all terms considers this work to protect the environment as an important task. That is why we set out a policy framework to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The government has set a number of policies, including the 2021 Glasgow COP 26 Pact, where it decided not to license more coal-fired power plants to reduce emissions, which affects the environment a lot. At the COP 28, the Minister of the Environment, HE Eang Sophalleth, who represented me, attended a meeting in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and reaffirmed our commitment […]

Apparently in (6) these three months, first, I canceled the project of a coal-fired power plant with a capacity of 700 megawatts and replaced it by an electricity plant powered by LNG gas. Second, Cambodia at present gets 62% energy from the renewable sources. This is a high (contribution from such energy source), but we aim to have (this energy participation increasing) to 70% of our total energy sources by 2030 […] that is why Cambodia encourages investment in electricity generation from renewable energy, hydropower, solar and wind. We have not yet reached the nuclear generating electricity. Nuclear is hard. Our country is small. It is not yet necessary. Third, the Royal Government has issued a sub-decree on the establishment of the Urban Waste Management Committee in 2021 to deal from start to end in waste management. In Phnom Penh there are thousands of tons of garbage. Garbage companies failed to pick up a day or two, we all know how much the garbage heaps. Thus, ensuring waste management not only collects them but manages in a way not to damage the environment […]

This requires a policy framework. (7) At the beginning of November, I agreed to the request of the Ministry of Mines and Energy to stop issuing more mining licenses in the Prey Land area. We no longer issue new mining licenses there. Existing licenses are ongoing and efforts are being made to reduce the study area […] let’s study how to determine the area to be studied so that it is not too big and would not have damage that much. Existing mines should not be expanded. Keep it as a protected area. This is the principle […]

[2]

In the past, I have seen a lot of this work with the involvement of our private sector. HE Say Sam Al also promoted this work. Now if we go to certain restaurants and to some eating places there are no more plastic straws. Paper straws can be made […] with developed technology, we can now reproduce from molten materials. In Japan, I met a company that wanted to invest in our country. They wanted to invest in raising chickens. When asked what for does the company want to raise chickens? They said the chicken are not for meat or eggs. They use it to make yarn and shirts. They brought me a winter coat to wear then ask me if I know what it is made from? It is made from eggs. I said it is unbelievable that it can be done […] then it comes to this issue of (biodegradable). That is the science that we need to bring in, and the use of all this is an important task that first reduces consumption, secondly promotes the use of environmentally friendly things […]

[3]

We focus on the environmental conservation angle, but we must not forget that there are people living there. We must strive to create the participation of the people there by (8) organizing a community with a stable source of income to ensure its functioning. I would commend the Ministry of Environment as well as the relevant institutions, local authorities, for the effort that we have established so many communities across the country. The day before I went to Kep, I walked around the stall. I see the products of the community there. Let us turn it into an alternative source for them to earn a living rather than deforesting or hunting. We have to admit that if we do not encourage them to go hunting or cutting down the forest that he used to do, we have to create an economic lifeblood for them to find work nearby or to work on products demanded by the market […]

Of course, many communities are of small size, but this is also a good step […] in the future, the areas where we have connectivity, for example, green areas for tourism, we promote community production activities there. (9) Eco-tourism does not mean a place for people to visit alone. We must find a formula to benefit the people in the local area […] meaning that the tourist visiting the place will find food and supplies at their own choosing […] they visit the place for the good ecosystem, communication with local people, […] we cannot create jobs or factory work in every village, or relocate jobs to remote mountainous areas or protected areas […] but we can link them with some economic activities. It is an innovation that the Ministry of Tourism and all relevant ministries must pay attention to fulfilling this work […]

While studying in the United States, they raised the issue of how the Amazon region should not allow people to engage in logging business. Asking what are the other options for their income if not letting them do that? […] (10) the Ministry of Environment has the duty not only to protect trees, forests, natural resources within its jurisdiction, but also to protect the people and improve the lives of the people to benefit from the creation of our work. The ministry has done well. I appreciate this creativity. Please continue this recipe. People are the base. Whatever you do, think of people. People are our citizens. If once gate is closed, open another gate for them. Close the gates that affects the law, but open the gates that are legal […]

In the past, there has been some deforestation, […] however, people’s logging and hunting do not have a serious impact. The biggest impact is forest crime. It must be restrained. This duty had been carefully planned by Samdech Techo, for which the Commission for the Prevention and Suppression of Natural Resource Crimes, relevant ministries, institutions, and authorities must work together to increase efficiency to combat this forest crime […] to protect the people and the community is one thing, but restraining large-scale offenses is another. (11) I would like to order all relevant authorities to strictly enforce the law against the perpetrators of the natural resources. Second, the National Commission for the Prevention and Suppression of Natural Resource Crimes must take actions […] the capital/provincial unified commands with direct instruction to the National Gendarmerie are ready to provide the necessary support. Before the election, in Pursat, the provincial governor reported that there were people here and there (who committed natural crimes). Please take strict protective measures. Otherwise, we will suffer. Few people benefit, many people suffer. Those who make a lot of money from that business are now responsible before the law […]

The Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries must strengthen and increase cooperation under its jurisdiction responsibly and professionally. Carefully protect the flooded forest area, both fresh and salt water. Do whatever we can. Together, protect all these areas as our national heritage, all our people. This is an order that I issued to the relevant ministries and institutions to please apply and check the legal framework further on this matter. I thank you for providing information, and some places have also been active. Some information came through my Facebook account, I forwarded them to the provincial authorities to take action immediately. I seek the concerned provincial and local authorities in charge take action quickly. They should not wait until the matter is being brought up on Facebook and for order to come down to them. The sword of duty is already with you. As for the implementation by the local authorities, I am behind you, but apply them correctly. We work together in order to protect our resources […]

[4]

Let me open brackets about the environment that is visible to us. It the “Social environment.” This point may not be within the topic today but it concerns us all. In these months, there are a number of tasks related to the security of our social order that must be managed. Let me raise 3 tasks:

First, religious activities that undermines our religious values. Recently there was a yogi came out […] a woman putting on the monk robe considering/behaving herself as a Buddha. I would ask (the Minister,) HE Chay Borin, of Cults and Religions, to look into this issue […] all religions have a clear basis. (I am asking the) practitioners not to use the name of the religion to do anything wrong […] we do not interfere in religion, but we have a duty to protect our religious values and to protect our social values. Please check every religious practice that they must have a clear basis. We do not block their rights but do it with clear content […]

(Regarding the) distribution and conduction of business in public places […] (in order) to protect our cultural values. Sellers who conduct their business online, for instance, […] it’s their rights to do whatever they wish in their houses. How many of their supporters believe in them is their problem. But if there is no clear basis (to prove their action), it should be checked. First, acting in public that some people do not know what it is. Second, social media broadcasts that jeopardize our religious and cultural devalues […] there must be a boundary. We support the practice of religion to do the right thing, but not to use religion as a shield or as an excuse to do things that harm our social values […]

Second, law enforcement. Recently, the issue of someone drove a car and caused lethal accident. (Our law enforcement has been) waiting for principles (as to what action to take). I would like to issue an order. If there is a specific crime, for example, car accident and killing someone, action must be taken without having to ask for the principle to arrest the perpetrator at once […] in the administration, I tell the police or the military police, the law enforcement officers that in the actual crime, if you apply the law correctly, go ahead, your back is the Prime Minister […]

(14) The third issue is social security related to the drug crackdown. This is a big issue. In my five key measures, the one key of them is to focus on drug control to ensure the village/commune’s safety. We have established the authority and set up the mechanism, and I thank them very much for doing a lot of work so far. Now one of the goals to be discussed with (the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior) HE Sar Sokha and (the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense) HE Tea Seiha is to refine our forces. Drugs must be cleared from the armed forces. That must be done first because as law enforcer, they must be clean. HE Sar Sokha issued a policy the day before that as long as there is drug substance in the police force, the measure is to expel from the police force framework. This is what the has done a lot since 2019 in the army […] (regarding this issue,) the officers involved in drug use are to be removed from the framework of the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of National Defense, the Armed Forces, the General Commissioner of the National Police, the Commander-in-Chief […]  once removed, I will keep this slot to the ministry/institution. If that (person in that) unit in the interior is to be fired from that department, I allow recruitment of new police officers but not the same status […]

(15) We set a new government approach, starting with the armed forces. Those who use drugs must be expelled immediately. Drug traffickers must face the law and be expelled from the framework. For foreigners in the country, if involved in drug related crimes, we will apply the law and deport from the country […]

Excellency the diplomats (who are) here (present), please understand that this is a religious matter. Do not see it as if the government violates religious rights. We act within the framework of responsible religious freedom to protect the culture and society. You have the right to do whatever your practice but cannot go broadcast publicly […] it affects social value, especially the youth […] may all those who practice religious freedom take the responsibility to participate in order to safeguard (our religion and social value). It is not that we are blocking people’s freedom […]./.

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