CITY officials have approved plans for Khmer Krom activists to hold a ceremony Friday marking the 61st anniversary of a French colonial ruling that formally ceded former Cambodian territories in the Mekong Delta region to Vietnam.
The decision follows last month’s rejection of a proposal for a similar ceremony to be held in the park outside Wat Botum. In a letter dated May 21, Kep Chuktema cited concerns about “security and public order” in rejecting the initial plan. At the time he recommended that organisers send a new one to the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts.
Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community (KKKC) president Thach Setha said Kep Chuktema had on Wednesday granted approval for a ceremony to be held at Wat Sammaki Raingsey. The pagoda, in Meanchey district, is a centre for ethnic Khmer monks and activists from southern Vietnam.
Though he said he was relieved the plan had been approved, Thach Setha expressed frustration at the lack of haste shown by municipal authorities in response to his group’s requests. “The lateness of their reply means we have a shorter time to organise the celebration,” he said.
Explaining the significance of the anniversary, he said: “The National Land Loss Mourning Day is celebrated for the purpose of commemorating the spirits of those who died in their struggles for the cause of our nation and religion, and for the protection of the Khmer Krom land, which was cut from Cambodia on June 4, 1949.”
Yoeung Sin, abbot of Wat Sammaki Raingsey, said he, too, was pleased that the celebration would go ahead.
“The anniversary is of great importance in arousing the spirits of younger generations of Khmer people, so that they remember history and seek to protect Khmer territory,” he said.
Yim Sovann, spokesman for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), also said the anniversary should never be forgotten.
“Young generations of Khmer people must remember and learn from the loss of this land,” he said. “They must try to protect the territories of their country forever.”
He added that Cambodia remained under threat from neighbouring forces, pointing to allegations that Vietnamese authorities have placed border markers inside Cambodian territory. Government officials have vehemently denied the SRP’s claims.