The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party yesterday handed over digital copies of a Cambodia-Vietnam border map bought in France to the Royal Academy.
The academy’s border committee now has maps from the UN, US and France, and says it will begin studying them in a bid to settle a contentious land dispute between Cambodia and Vietnam.
“I have received maps from the CNRP at headquarters”, said Sok Touch, head of the academy’s International Relations Institute and director of the border research team.
Last month, CNRP leader Sam Rainsy posted photos on Facebook of a border map bought in Paris.
In an implicit critique of the CNRP’s spearheading of the border issue, Touch told CNRP lawmakers present at the handover that his border team was composed of neutral researchers “who want to put an end to this dispute about maps that politicians have used in verbal attacks”.
Nevertheless, Touch said he was “thankful” for the opposition’s submission.
“We are scientists, we have no political tendencies and we will merely inform the politicians of the benefits and disadvantages [of maps] used to resolve border issues”, Touch said.
“[Deciding who is] right or wrong is not our responsibility, because our duty is just to study the maps and compile [the results] in one document.”
Touch said on Sunday that it could take up to two years of study before a report on the land dispute is submitted to parliament.
But that timetable seemed unlikely to sate the CNRP.
Hong Sokhour, a senator in the Sam Rainsy Party and the CNRP’s border expert, said that maritime borders with Vietnam could be another hot issue in the future.
“Today we talk about the boundary on the land, but we believe in the future that we will discuss boundaries on the sea, as the main and most controversial issue is the Brevie line, because no one clearly knows whether King Sihanouk acknowledged the line or not,” he said.
The Brevie line is a border drawn up by the French colonial authorities in 1939, which handed administration of the island of Phu Quoc, or Koh Tral in Khmer, to Cochinchina, which is now part of Vietnam.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan could not be reached.
In the past months, the CNRP has claimed that Vietnam is encroaching on Cambodian land on the border, igniting a clash in May between opposition activists and Vietnamese farmers.