Pirates steal sand from Cambodia
Two Cambodian fishermen go for night fishing as the sun goes down in the seaside resort of Sihanoukville some 230kms South of Phnom Penh, 22 April 2001. (Getty Images)
August 24th, 2011
08:47 PM ET

Pirates steal sand from Cambodia

Editor's Note: The following text is from GlobalPost, which provides excellent coverage of world news – importantmoving and just odd.

By Patrick Winn, GlobalPost

Where once there was seabed, hotels, a casino and airport rise off Singapore's coast.

But as the tiny island city-state dumps sand on its shores, expanding its territory already by one-fifth, there are increasing claims that Singapore is illegally buying up soil through corrupt channels in Cambodia.

The latest to push these claims is the Associated Press, which reports that foreign vessels were spotted dredging up Cambodian sand for apparent export. The dredging, largely banned in 2009 for eating up Cambodian territory, appears to persist.

An AP reporter tracked or spotted vessels registered in Hong Kong, Vietnam and China dredging in Cambodia. Locals in one coastal province "joked about going to Singapore and planting a Cambodian flag there," according to the report.

A U.K.-based watchdog group, Global Witness, has done the most to expose this practice.

But despite the government's ban, the group said vessels are still scooping up Cambodian soil and selling it abroad with zero benefit to Cambodian citizens.

Rising sea levels throughout the Southeast Asian tropics will likely increase the future demand for sandy soil, dumped along coastlines to reclaim territory.

Thailand is the latest to propose such a project: a controversial and futuristic "new city" near Bangkok built atop marshy muck now under the Gulf of Thailand.

Post by:
Topics: East Asia • Odd

soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. j. von hettlingen

    There's plenty of sand in the Sahara and Gobi. Maybe countries in the desert regions could make an export out of their sand.

    August 25, 2011 at 5:14 am | Reply
    • rj

      You need a ship to sail it back to china. How else are they supposed to build. Plus the Sahara is to far. The majority of sand theft is along africa and all nations within a short sailing route to china.

      August 25, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Reply
      • James

        @rj: What does a "short sailing route to China" have to do with anything, sand theft expert? Singapore isn't in China.

        August 27, 2011 at 11:22 am |
  2. Onesmallvoice

    Ever since the fall of Communism in Cambodia, corruption has bee the name of the game in that country. The adage being, wherever Capitalism goes, corruption follows!

    August 25, 2011 at 8:07 am | Reply
    • Andrew

      Yes, because the Soviet East Block, China, Cuba, Venezuela, etc. had/have absolutely no corruption or nepotism whatsoever. I think you need a history lesson, my friend.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:20 am | Reply
    • Jaime

      What did communism bring to Cambodia? Oh yeah, the slaughter of 1/3 of their people.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Reply
      • seamar116

        And who stopped the slaughter in and went after the Khmer Rouge...oh yes, the communists of Vietnam. If you are going to use history to make a point, try and use it accurately.

        August 25, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
      • KeithTexas

        It wasn't communist. There is a lot to say about how America got involved there. We made the Khmer Rouge powerful and it took the Vietnamese to get rid of them.

        America isn't good for countries, we are never there to do anyone a favor.

        August 25, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • Shinea

      There is WAY MORE corruption in communist countries than there is in "capitalist" ones. In a communist regime the ONLY way to make extra money is to demand bribes and deal in an underground economy.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Reply
      • KeithTexas

        Oh, like our Congressmen do here in America.

        August 25, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
      • Josh

        Touche, Tex. 😉

        August 26, 2011 at 3:04 am |
    • George

      The correct adage is: Wherever humans go, corruption follows.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Reply
      • denim

        MUCH more accurate.

        August 25, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
      • dslguy

        Why is it everyone seems to think they can take advantage of cambodias goods and land and sea/fishing stealing from cambodia is wrong and they better ghet after a way to make it stop or they'll run you over so hard you won't know what hit ya.

        August 25, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • poiuytre

      Anyway you look at it, the Cambodian people have been effed for the past 35 years by the Khmer Rouge's systematic genocide and Hun Sen's totalitarian regime. I feel for them!

      August 25, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Reply
    • Captain obvious

      Your comment leaps off the page like a red flag in football my friend. Look and read all the comments that came after yours and next time please don't waste our time with your "cute" little "history" quips. This should be a forum for people who've put some thought into what they say. Next time before you hit the enter key, re-read your comment.

      August 25, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Reply
    • MKeller

      What a sad, sad, warped world you live in.

      August 25, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Reply
    • Bill Duke

      The adage being, wherever Onesmallvoice posts, his idiocy is revealed

      August 25, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Reply
    • cheese

      Incidentally, Capitalism also brought prosperity to billions of people.

      That reclining chair you sit so comfortably in front of your computer, is a product of capitalism, and so is that computer you are using.

      You socialists are retarded. Socialists believe that everyone is equal, but some people (the Socialists) are more equal than others. No? Hypocrites.

      August 26, 2011 at 6:22 am | Reply
  3. duh

    corruption does not exist in Capitalistic countries alone. Corruption exists in most countries including Communist China. Unless decent values and ethics are taught and revered, there will always be someone taking advantage of the less fortunate.

    August 25, 2011 at 10:15 am | Reply
    • JV22

      You nailed it duh. Corruption exists in both capatalist and communist societies. To say it is a byproduct of some form of government or another is pretty damn simplistic.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Reply
    • Barry G.

      What you said is true.

      Humans have been given to evil and corruption since ancient Mesopotamia, and probably long before that.

      How sad that humans can be so intelligent and have such enormous potential, and yet be so greedy, so selfish, so thoughtless and irresponsible.

      God help us!

      August 25, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Reply
      • Sean

        Which one? Middle Eastern god or Asian?

        August 25, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • KeithTexas

      Corruption starts at the top. Until you stop the Scoundrels and Thieves in Washington the corruption will spread like a virus.

      It is already starting with the petty little Boss Hog kingdoms.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Reply
  4. erich2112x

    Can they come pick up this load of fill dirt in my backyard?

    August 25, 2011 at 10:19 am | Reply
    • volksmaniac

      FOMCF !! ;~)

      August 25, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Reply
  5. Glen Jones

    The entire country is for sale by the Government without any benefit to the citizens. This is the story of mining, lumber, and any other business here. Just wait until they start pumping oil. It will be another example of how corrupt countries who get oil lead to lower quality of life for citizens and how less corrupt countries lead to higher quality of life(take Nigeria for example).

    August 25, 2011 at 11:27 am | Reply
  6. ralk

    Nothing but a BS story.

    August 25, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Reply
    • George

      Are you claiming that ships are not dredging up sand off the Cambodian coast and dumping it off the shores of Singapore?

      August 25, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Reply
    • Josh

      I claim that sir. I claim it with CAPLOCKS! No but seriously, sand theft is an important news stor...hahaha, couldn't even finish the sentence. So, about Libya...

      August 26, 2011 at 3:08 am | Reply
  7. JeffinIL

    If the pirates make glass eyes from the sand, when they come ashore without eye-patches, how will we know they're pirates? Arr, they be getting sneaky.

    August 25, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Reply
    • WhitneyG

      This is an interesting story. Kind of something to giggle at. Haha! Pirates with glass eyes.

      August 25, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Reply
  8. MinnyHockey

    I saw the Pirates steal second base last night.

    August 25, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Reply
  9. Barry G.

    If only we could put an end to crime and corruption, this would be such a better world.

    August 25, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Reply
    • Mark L

      But then what would CNN have to write about anymore? it would be all natural disasters and filler stories

      August 25, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Reply
  10. james stirk

    What a great way to make a neighbor disappear.

    August 25, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Reply
  11. mytchyb


    August 25, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Reply
  12. jayjay

    Stealing sand? How pathetic can yo get?

    August 26, 2011 at 12:10 am | Reply
    • Josh

      Debt Ceiling debate, that's even sadder...

      August 26, 2011 at 3:09 am | Reply
  13. Maurice

    Well if if were big private businesses aka. corporations doing it, the only reason an article like this would be written on CNN would be to call the Cambodians, who are attacking the corporations' dredging ships, pirates. Yeah they would be labeled as pirates from attacking and taking hostage the very people destroying their coast with impunity.

    August 26, 2011 at 12:42 am | Reply
    • rowan

      amen . he who has the money rules. and that means about 2 % of the people on this earth rule it. when we the commoners get paid all were doing is borrowing. it some how finds its way right back into the pocket of those 2 %.

      August 26, 2011 at 5:28 am | Reply
  14. NVresident

    Too bad NV isn't closer. We could put a lot of people to work digging up the state and filling our treasury. But the Feds own most of the state so we probably wouldn't get much. Oh well, just a thought.

    August 26, 2011 at 1:50 am | Reply
    • rowan

      try wouldnt get any. im in tn and we have natural gas in our mountains. unfortunantly for the government its on private property. they got around that small problem. they charged the people who owned the land for the equipment, and taxed everything but the airthese people breath. they make around 200$ a month it by the time the companies and the government get thru.the gas is scattered. not alot of it in one place. so no one has a chance of " striking it rich". but the companies are happy with the arraingment.no government for the people, a government for big business.

      August 26, 2011 at 5:33 am | Reply
  15. rowan

    so its all about money. i was thinking it was about something irreplacable. like a coral reef, some sort of fish. but no its about paying for the sand. ye gods if youre basicly building an island, and are going to build on it. pay the people for their sand! idiots.

    August 26, 2011 at 5:26 am | Reply
  16. Observer

    They better be opening up an hourglass manufacturing.

    August 26, 2011 at 5:27 am | Reply
  17. skeptic

    They should steal sand from Houston and give me an ocean front in Austin.

    August 28, 2011 at 8:31 am | Reply
  18. Donbeliev da Hype

    Solution: Stop population growth.

    August 28, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Reply
  19. Walrus McAdam

    This is a tempest in a teacup. 1. The sand probably originates up the Mekong river (China?) and is washed down to Cambodia. The real problem is soil erosion. 2. So they dredge up sand and use it for something useful. That is a worthy deed. 3. Does the world need more Singapore, or more Cambodia? Conclusion: Global witness has too much time on its hands. AP should report on real news. CNN should be telling us how can we support these dredgers.

    August 28, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Reply
  20. you don't need no aliens

    Hey Paul Krugman ( http://moneyland.time.com/2011/08/16/paul-krugman-an-alien-invasion-could-fix-the-economy/), you don't need no fake aliens to fix up the U.S. economic woes. Just send all your warships to Cambodia to dredge up all the sand and sell them to any country that needs it and at least you'll be doing something productive to reduce your deficits rather than fantasizing about non-existent aliens or coming up with more hare-brained ideas from someone looking more like a homeless person!

    August 30, 2011 at 12:21 am | Reply
  21. Rick USA

    China has their hands in every corrupt and illegal activity short of killing people in the name of religion. It will catch up to them and I hope I have the DVR ready to record.

    September 11, 2011 at 7:58 am | Reply
  22. Pirates

    >:D Yesh more sand is taken now no more sand castle for the little children

    September 15, 2011 at 10:19 am | Reply

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