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Journalists need not apply for border trip

As part of the ongoing effort to create agreed-upon border posts between Cambodia and Vietnam, officials from both countries will demarcate land in Svay Rieng province this month, setting the stage for a possible confrontation with an opposition lawmaker-elect who intends to visit the same area.

Va Kimhong, senior minister in charge of the Cambodia-Vietnam Border Affairs Committee, said yesterday that officials will examine the geography around the border district of Romeas Hek, determining where one country ends and the other begins. He also asked that journalists not report on the activity, saying the committee is not a political party and doesn’t need the media’s help.

“We will do this bilaterally with [Vietnam]. So we must have an agreement, and we will go down in [June] and you ask what day? We go down; is it necessary to invite you to follow? We do not need a group of journalists following,” Kimhong said. “Don’t say that we hide, we do not hide but we do bilaterally, Cambodia with Vietnam. So we do not need journalists to do a report for publication. We do not need any popularity.”

Kimhong did not say how many border posts will be planted in the district.

The statement comes days after Real Camerin, Svay Rieng’s lawmaker-elect from the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, made public his plans to visit Romeas Hek, where he will revisit the issue of alleged Vietnamese encroachment on Cambodian territory.

Camerin said yesterday that he is scheduled to travel there on June 29. Kimhong did not provide a specific date for the border affairs committee’s appearance.

“This is a hiding of reality, not allowing people to know who the land owners are,” Camerin said, referring to Kimhong’s aversion to any news coverage of the demarcation trip.

Political analyst Kem Ley said the lack of transparency only serves to create more suspicion, calling the workings of the two countries on the border a “mysterious agreement”.

“It is not different from our house. When we arrange the fence, we must let our children know, and all governments affairs must be accountable to parliament and . . . the people,” he said.

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