THE governments of Cambodia and Vietnam issued a joint statement this week vowing to encourage investment, cooperation and development in provinces along their shared border.
In the statement, released at the close of a summit in Phnom Penh, the Vietnamese government expressed its gratitude towards Cambodia for cooperation in the rubber sector, and offered to help train Cambodian agricultural officials.
“The Vietnamese party ... hopes to receive more support from the Cambodian party for Vietnamese firms and the enforcement of plans to invest in rubber crops in Cambodia,” the declaration says.
However, opposition politicians and local rights groups said yesterday that allowing Vietnamese rubber firms to invest in Cambodia would likely cost the Kingdom jobs and result in more land disputes between Vietnamese companies and the rural poor.
Chan Soveth, a senior monitor for the local rights group Adhoc, said that such foreign investment came with a cost, and warned that the Cambodian government should stop exposing rural families to the threat of eviction.
“The idea of development for the poor would be good, but I worry that Vietnam will send many labourers to work in Cambodia and then there will be no jobs for Cambodian workers,” he said.
“This kind of development we cannot accept,” he said.
“Allow people to live on their land, and they will develop the land by planting crops.”
Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann echoed these concerns, saying he was worried in particular about the potential for an influx of Vietnamese migrants.
“[The government] does not encourage Khmers to invest, but we encourage [Vietnam] to invest. Development we can accept, but allow us to control it clearly first,” he said.
“If Vietnam sends their labourers to work in Cambodia and Khmer people become jobless, what will Cambodia’s future look like?”
The meeting, which took place at the InterContinental Hotel in Phnom Penh, was presided over by Interior Minister Sar Kheng and Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem.
Minister of Agriculture Chan Sarun and Ly Phalla, director general of the General Directorate of Rubber Plan-tations, could not be reached for