Cambodia National Rescue Party President Sam Rainsy made the call while on a visit with 20 lawmakers-elect from the party to a rubber plantation run by Vietnamese military-linked CRCK company as part of a land concession in the forest in Kampong Thom province.
Opposition politicians have raised several complaints against the government about the company since it began clearing forest to make way for the rubber trees after it was granted a 23 square mile (60 square kilometer) land concession in the province’s Sandan district three years ago.
Villagers who have long relied on the forest have lost their livelihoods because of deforestation brought by trees felled for land concessions such as those given to CRCK, Sam Rainsy said.
“We shouldn’t welcome these foreign companies … that have encroached on our forest,” he told RFA's Khmer Service.
Scale of destruction
He said he was “speechless” at the scale of destruction of the forest, which stretches across about 1,390 square miles (3,600 square kilometers).
“Before, this area used to have forest so thick we couldn’t even see the sky, but now it has vanished and we can see only see empty fields.”
“I feel sorrow for our country, the forest, and all the people,” he said.