Aside from ripping the people of Cambodia off by giving control over Angkor Archaeological Park to a private company, the corrupt government of Cambodia lead by the extremely dangerous dictator Hun Sen also rips people off by excessive deforestation and illegal logging. Angkor Archaeological Park attracts millions of foreigners to Cambodia, resulting in near billion dollars in direct revenue, yet most of it gets lost in a black hole controlled by the corrupt senior officials. Angkor is a historical and cultural heritage of all Cambodians, yet ordinary people do not see a penny out of the money it generates. Through Sokimex, private company with close ties to the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), Angkor was privatized, taking the heritage away from the people and into the hands of the elite.
Likewise, Cambodian rainforest which is the largest remaining lowland evergreen forest in mainland Southeast Asia is a natural resource of all Cambodians, yet through illegal logging the corrupt government of Cambodia ensures that ordinary people don’t reap any benefits from their rich natural resources.
The deforestation in Cambodia continues at unprecedented rate that has no match anywhere in the world. This deforestation continues while foreign governments, which sent upwards of one billion of taxpayer’s dollars to Cambodia in donations each year, do absolutely nothing to intervene.
Illegal logging is part of a large scale asset-stripping operation pulled on the people of Cambodia by their own, corrupt government. While Cambodian forests continue to get ransacked, small group of people keeps the profits leaving ordinary people with no improvement in quality of their lives, even though the forest also belongs to them. However from my own standpoint, from a standpoint of a Canadian taxpayer whose taxes are in part used to support this corrupt government instead of imposing sanctions on it for ongoing destruction of fragile Cambodian environment – I’m pissed.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates, Cambodia lost 29% of its tropical forest between 2000 and 2005. International experts tend to agree that illegal logging took even faster pace after 2005, when Global Witness – the London, UK based activist organization which monitored Cambodian forest for 12 years was expelled from the country. Global Witness accused Cambodian government of excessive deforestation when permits and licenses to cut trees were given to friends and relatives of high Cambodian officials. As a result, they were driven out of the country.
Cambodian government, the most corrupt government in the world only cares about themselves and their own bank accounts. They are willing and ready to exploit any and all of the resources the country has without using any fraction of it to help ordinary people. And what do the foreign governments do about it? Give them more money, money of their own taxpayers so Cambodian elite can strengthen their grip on the economy and further slow the alleviation of poverty and protection of the environment.
As I’m writing this, dozens of Cambodian trees were mowed down to satisfy the greed of the Cambodian elite. Illegal logging and excessive deforestation are here to stay and will not stop unless this government is stripped of power. Sadly, they will not let go without a bloodshed.