Press Release / Aug. 14, 1998

An open letter to: Samdech Hun Sen, leader, Cambodian Peoples Party, Prince Norodom Ranariddh leader Funcinpec Party, His Excellency Sam Rainsy leader Sam Rainsy Party

In an interview with the Cambodia Daily on 6th August 1998 CPP spokesman Svay Sitha stated that Global Witness' latest report on illegal logging, in its Khmer translation, had hurt the party and especially "...affected our popularity in Kratie" province. Global Witness welcomes the recognition by CPP that the illegal and unsustainable exploitation of Cambodia's forests is a vote loser.

Global Witness would like to note that its March 1998 report, Going Places - Cambodia's Future on the Move was translated into Khmer because of the almost complete lack of information on illegal logging available to Cambodians. The Khmer translation represents the first time that a detailed exposé of illegal logging and deforestation in Cambodia has been made available to Cambodian politicians, officials, NGOs and, through the media, to the general public, in their own language. The report identifies the main companies and the key individuals involved in the destruction of Cambodia's forest resource, and highlights the scale of deforestation. Demand for the report was extremely high and all 6,000 copies were distributed within four weeks of publication.

Over the past few years more and more Cambodian people, at all levels of society, have become aware that illegal logging and deforestation are serious threats to Cambodia's future. With the provision of Global Witness' information in Khmer this awareness will grow. Apparently, a significant number of Cambodians have demonstrated their concern through the ballot box.

According to various sources, including the World Bank, Cambodia's forests will be commercially logged out within five years - within the lifetime of the new government. The next five years are, therefore, crucial to Cambodia's future. They represent a valuable opportunity for the CPP, Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party to work together to protect Cambodia's forests, implement forest policy reform and to weed out corruption.

The failure to achieve these goals will incur social, economic and ecological penalties which will affect Cambodia and its people in the long-term. In addition, based on CPP's statements, it is evident that there will also be a political price to pay.

Yours sincerely,

Patrick Alley