Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Gov’t promises border action

Gov’t promises border action

Attendees look at a border map during a forum in Tbong Khmum province yesterday where a delegation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs met with local authorities about ongoing border issues.
Attendees look at a border map during a forum in Tbong Khmum province yesterday where a delegation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs met with local authorities about ongoing border issues. Heng Chivoan

Gov’t promises border action

A government delegation yesterday told Tbong Khmum provincial and local officials it would resolve a border dispute with Vietnam in Memot district “very soon”, as villagers blocked from their farms in the contested area by Vietnamese authorities say they fear looming food shortages.

The comments were made during a visit to the province by members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cambodia’s Border Committee to discuss the ongoing demarcation process.

Addressing some 100 police, officials and journalists at Tbong Khmum Provincial Hall, Foreign Ministry Secretary of State Long Visalo, also on the Cambodia-Vietnam Joint Border Committee, called on people to “calm down and trust” the government as it worked to delineate the shared border.

Attacking the Cambodia National Rescue Party for politicising the sensitive border issue, Visalo said the Kingdom had secured 100 hectares in Memot – between border posts 94 and 95. During an opening presentation, Border Committee member Lay Sieng Ly said the land had been secured through an "exchange," though he offered no particulars of the deal in question.

“[The CNRP] are attacking us very cruelly,” Visalo said.

“We have been clear about the map.… Our people have maintained 100 hectares of land because the government put the interests of the nation as the priority, and the benefit of the people.”

The CNRP has recently ratcheted up pressure on the border by highlighting several alleged encroachments, including the plight of about 70 families in Memot district’s Choam commune.

The villagers have been blocked from accessing their farms in a contested 16-hectare patch of territory by the Vietnamese authorities, who have also allegedly sprayed their crops with herbicide in an effort to push them out.

Speaking yesterday, Sieng Ly, head of the technical demarcation team in Tbong Khmum, said the contested area was “complicated” but would be demarcated “very soon”.

He said about seven markers were set to be planted in the area.

However, villagers from the area yesterday expressed doubts of a positive solution.

Deputy commune chief Ou Oeun said 70 families relied on the disputed land for farming.

Although the situation was “calm” he said villagers were worried about running out of food.

“Villagers cannot collect their crops; the Vietnamese soldiers keep watching,” he said.

“A few days ago, a Vietnamese patrol pulled up a durian plantation.”

Ea Yean, 47, a farmer whose rice crop was sprayed by the Vietnamese, said she had little faith the situation would turn out well.

“There is still a lot of tension. About five Vietnamese with guns and electric batons, they patrol every day, and they claim the land belongs to them.

I still cannot do anything, I still cannot have access to my farm, I still wait for the resolution from the government, but I have no confidence that it will be solved in our favour,” she said.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed Foreign Ministry Secretary of State Long Visalo as mentioning a "land swap" with Vietnam. In fact, it was Border Committee member Lay Sieng Ly who had mentioned an "exchange." The Post regrets the error.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM: Armed uprising to be destroyed immediately

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday said if an armed group were to rise up as announced by Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), they would be destroyed immediately. Hun Sen said Rainsy’s announcement of having

  • Sihanoukville to begin road project

    The government will spend $200 million to improve Sihanoukville’s infrastructure. The eight-month project will involve the rebuilding of 34 streets with a total of more than 84km. Pal Chandara, the secretary of state and spokesman for the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, told The Post

  • Artefact is seized from American auctioneers

    Cambodian and US archaeologists on Thursday discussed the formalities and procedures of returning to Cambodia an artefact which was recently seized by US Homeland Security Investigators (HSI) from an auction house in San Francisco. On Monday, the HSI said US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE),

  • New note to mark King’s coronation

    The government announced on Monday that a new 15,000 riel bank-note will be introduced to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the coronation of King Norodom Sihamoni on October 29. Prime Minister Hun Sen said the new note bears the portrait of the King, with an image of