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Map critics face arrest

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SRP Senator Hong Sok Hour is escorted into the Phnom Penh Municipal Court by armed police last Saturday. Heng Chivoan

Map critics face arrest

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday delivered a warning to anyone still thinking about criticising the government’s handling of the ongoing border demarcation with Vietnam: you will be arrested.

Addressing a cabinet meeting, Hun Sen said anyone who persisted with claims that authorities were using “fake” maps or had ceded land to Vietnam, would face legal action, confirmed government spokesman Phay Siphan.

“We want to see that stop,” Siphan, labelling such attacks “offensive”, as the maps had also been accepted by the King and the National Assembly.

“That is against the national interest and national security, and everyone is accountable to the law,” he said.

The threat followed Thursday’s cross-checking of government maps with charts of the Kingdom loaned by the UN, which saw government officials claim the maps matched, thereby disproving opposition accusations that maps favouring Vietnam were being used.

Allegations surrounding the government’s maps have been a key part of the Cambodia National Rescue Party’s campaign highlighting alleged Vietnamese encroachment.

Following the findings yesterday, the premier delivered a personal warning via text message, telling CNRP president Sam Rainsy to stop his troops from politicking on the border issue.

In the message, sent yesterday morning according to a ruling party spokesman, Hun Sen justifies the jailing of Senator Hong Sok Hour for posting a “fake” section of a border treaty between Vietnam and Cambodia.

“His act manipulated people for an election benefit,” Hun Sen wrote, according to a copy published by local media.

He also labels the opposition’s own maps “a tool to manipulate people for popularity”.

He added: “As a result, this tool has [seen] your colleagues sent to jail and [seen] some escape from the country.”

However, the premier goes on to promise to continue working with Rainsy under their so-called culture of dialogue.

Rainsy, abroad in Australia, yesterday reiterated a pledge to lay off the border issue, given its “extreme sensitivity” for the Cambodian People’s Party.

He said via email that his colleagues would instead focus on other issues including poverty and government corruption.

“On those intrinsically national issues and in this constructive spirit, the culture of dialogue will prove most valuable for a peaceful democratic transition,” Rainsy said.

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