Prime Minister Hun Sen has made it clear that the former King Norodom Sihanouk-led
Supreme National Council on Border Affairs (SNCBA) will remain an advisory body only,
although CPP chairman Chea Sim weighed into the issue by saying he thought the former
King was well-qualified to tackle border problems.
In a speech delivered June 28 at the 54th anniversary party of the CPP, Sim referred
to former King Sihanouk as the father of national independence, sovereignty and Khmer
national unity. He spoke highly of the SCNBA and the former King's ability to carry
out his mandate.
"The recent creation of the [SNCBA] presided over by the heroic King Samdech
Preah Norodom Sihanouk was a demonstration of the common will of top national institutions
and Khmer politicians to consolidate the process of resolving the border issues with
neighboring countries which are considered as the death and life issue of the nation,"
Sim said. "The first meeting of the [SNCBA] has produced a positive outcome."
Border issues came to a head earlier this month when Funcinpec President Prince Norodom
Ranariddh informed Prime Minister Hun Sen that an unnamed Prince had threatened a
future rebellion over failure to deal with border issues. This led to Hun Sen's suggestion
in a speech he delivered on June 18 that the man's wife and children prepare a coffin.
Though Hun Sen refused to name the Prince, he did issue a warning to Suth Dina, the
president of the Khmer Front Party and the Democratic Front of Khmer Students &
Intellectuals, suggesting that the man look carefully at the Constitution. Dina is
an activist who has led demonstrations to encourage the government to resolve border
The Prime Minister defended his threat to use "all means necessary" to
put down any rebellion, asking rhetorically, "We are the leaders of the government.
Why would we allow a coup d'etat?"
The Prime Minister had previously assumed the presidency of a newly formed National
Authority on Border Affairs (NABA) on June 14, which has the right to negotiate and
sign treaties with neighboring countries.
Sihanouk seemed to take the relegation of the SNCBA to an advisory body in stride.
"Samdech Hun Sen ... does not allow me any power, and I am happy that he takes
all the responsibility for this issue," said Sihanouk, after returning from
Beijing on June 22 where he has been receiving medical treatment for cancer.
The opposition Sam Rainsy Party has also expressed support for former King Sihanouk
and the SNCBA.
"I think that only the retired King would be able to resolve border issues,
because of his long experience and the influence he has with the international community,"
party member Keo Remy said. "With all Khmer politicians respecting the retired
King, why won't they allow the retired King to work resolving these border issues?"
Still, Hun Sen maintained some perspective on Cambodia's royal power struggles, comparing
them favorably with those of Nepal.
"Cambodia is not like Nepal, where the King dissolved the government to maintain
power," Hun Sen said. "Cambodia's former King Sihanouk is not as ambitious
as Nepal's King, and even if he were, our Constitution prohibits such actions."