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Farmland included in border exchange

Farmland included in border exchange

Cambodia and Vietnam’s border shuffle in Kampong Cham won’t involve ceding the two previously discussed villages to Vietnam, a government official said yesterday, but it will include farmland meant to compensate Vietnam for the ethnic Khmer villages on what is believed to be the Vietnamese side of the border.

Va Kimhong, a senior minister in charge of the Cambodian Border Committee, told the Post that though Anlong Chrey and Thlok Trach are off the table, a number of areas have been identified in which Cambodian villages and farmlands encroach onto Vietnamese territory. But, he added, rather than relinquish the overlapping lands to Vietnam, effectively taking them from their current owners, Cambodia will find acceptable farmland elsewhere to cede to its eastern neighbour.

“[Where] we are occupying, we will keep it for [our people] to continue their farming,” Kimhong said. “And we must find out any farmlands and ask if they want this or anywhere we change it in the same province.”

Kimhong added that there must first be proper negotiations and an agreement between both countries, but did not give a specific date for exchange, or elaborate on where exactly land would be transferred, except to say that it would also be in Kampong Cham province.

Opposition members and civil society groups have called on the government to postpone the transaction, claiming that any exchange with Vietnam must be based on a UN-certified map and include participation from political parties, NGOs and the international community.

“The Sam Rainsy Party absolutely opposes to any decision to cut Khmer land to Vietnam,” said Yim Sovann, an SRP spokesman and lawmaker, adding that all of the land in question is actually Cambodian.

Rong Chhun, head of the Cambodian Watchdog Council, echoed Sovann’s sentiment.

“I have walked and had a look at the majority; I have never seen border posts planted into [Vietnamese land],” he said. “In fact, [it would be] Khmer land changed with Khmer land.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Meas Sokchea at [email protected]

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