Opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party whip Son Chhay claimed yesterday that Vietnam had placed a border marker several kilometres inside supposedly neutral territory demarcating the Cambodia-Vietnam border near Ratanakkiri’s O’Yadav district.
“It’s not official yet, but there was some sort of white border marker, with the number 30 written on it, five kilometres from the original border and deep inside white zones within Cambodian territory,” he said, adding that he was brought there by local villagers during his two-day visit to the province.
The so-called “white zones” were created in the early 1990s when Cambodia was “trying to clearly demarcate its territory”, Chhay said, and were meant to establish a neutral zone between respective border posts.
He added that the CNRP would now get experts to verify the border marker’s position using GPS.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan responded yesterday, calling Chhay’s claim “baseless and unaccountable”.
“Son Chhay is a politician not a technocrat . . . the joint border committee decides on the border based on technical analysis. This is not the job of politicians,” he said, adding that the borders were demarcated based on colonial French maps of Indochina.
“The border issue has not been finalised yet and will be further discussed in the National Assembly for rectification . . . if he has any questions he needs to call on the government.”
The lawmaker will also file a report to the Prime Minister following his visit to investigate 18 complaints lodged by Jarai ethnic minority groups living in four communes in the district, he said.
The complaints, he added, allege illegal logging, land grabbing, destruction of property, physical violence and threats by local authorities.
Jarai representative Romas Chvat said he met Chhay in the hope he could intervene in the ongoing dispute between his village and Vietnamese firm Company 72, which they claim has been illegally clearing their ancestral forest.