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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - SRP rips border presentation

SRP rips border presentation

LAWMAKERS from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party say government officials dodged questions about the border-demarcation process, as the National Assembly gathered for a special session to discuss the issue on Thursday.

Var Kimhong, senior minister in charge of border affairs, spoke for about two hours in parliament in a bid to clarify Cambodia’s stance on its eastern border with Vietnam, following opposition concerns of Vietnamese encroachments along the frontier.

But opposition officials said Var Kimhong did little to clarify the situation on the country’s border with its neighbour.

“These answers we cannot accept. He did not answer the questions fully,” said SRP lawmaker Son Chhay after the session.

THESE ANSWERS WE CANNOT ACCEPT. HE DID NOT ANSWER THE QUESTIONS FULLY.

He said that despite the convening of a session to explain the status at the border – the second such meeting held by the National Assembly – 10 of his questions about alleged Vietnamese encroachments remained unaddressed.

“We want to ask the names of those officials who went to plant the border demarcation poles. Once [Var Kimhong] said that [demarcation was done] based on 1985 maps; once he said it was based on a 1964 map. This is what we as people’s representatives want to know,” Son Chhay said.

Opposition concerns about the border stem from an October 25 incident in which SRP President Sam Rainsy helped villagers uproot six wooden border markers in Svay Rieng province’s Chantrea district.

During the session, Son Chhay accused the Cambodian government of planting border markers in a non-transparent manner – concerns that were slapped down by Assembly President Heng Samrin, who said the SRP official did not have the right to speak.

Var Kimhong answered that he had already answered the concerns at length in a November 25 letter to Son Chhay.

“If Excellency has such a short memory, how will Excellency work on border issues?” he said.

Var Kimhong told the Assembly that Cambodia and Vietnam planned to plant 375 border markers along the two countries’ 1,270-kilometre shared border, a process that began in 2006 and is set to be finished by 2012.

Some 140 markers have been placed so far, he added, in accordance with a border treaty signed with Vietnam in 2005.

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