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KRP ‘to sue’ Academy chief over Koh Trol petition remark

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Royal Academy of Cambodia researcher Sok Touch speaks during a press conference in 2016 in Phnom Penh. Khmer Rise Party president Sok Sovan Vathana has said that he will take legal action against Touch for saying his party is inciting instability in the Kingdom. Pha Lina

KRP ‘to sue’ Academy chief over Koh Trol petition remark

Khmer Rise Party (KRP) president Sok Sovan Vathana has warned the head of the Royal Academy of Cambodia Sok Touch, that he will take legal action over the latter’s allegation that the party is inciting instability in the Kingdom.

Sovan Vathana said this in the wake of an interview in The Post on August 2, in which the KRP announced it will collect 50,000 thumbprints to petition the Constitutional Council to urge the Supreme Court to review an existing treaty with Vietnam for the return of Phu Quoc island, also known as Koh Trol in Khmer, which he says belongs to Cambodia.

Touch rubbished the KRP’s demand, saying it was merely political rhetoric.

“I think this is a wave of politics. If I was the government, I would throw him in jail right away. I need national development and do not need to manage political waves like this,” Touch had said.

Sovan Vathana said the party plans to sue Touch on Tuesday at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for his accusation and said he was speaking beyond his authority.

‘I will defend myself’

He said the Royal Academy of Cambodia is an institution involved in studying and researching new knowledge and compiling important documents, and so has nothing to do with politics.

“We will file the complaint [on Tuesday] or [Monday evening]. If talking about popularity on Facebook, Sok Touch is not as famous as me and he cannot gain support from the youth as I do,” he said.

However, Touch responded by saying he is not concerned about the lawsuit and did not wish to engage in a tirade with KRP.

Touch said an individual has the right to file a complaint, but must adhere to the National Election Committee (NEC) rules, as the body has not announced the official results of the general elections held on July 29.

So no one should make comments that can be detrimental to national security, he cautioned.

“If he wants to file a complaint, he can do so and I will defend myself. I do not have time for the KRP which has nothing to do. It just wants to be famous and promote the party,” he said.

Touch said the thumbprint drive to demand Koh Trol from Vietnam was a political gimmick and the island was not lost during the current government’s administration.

Instead, it was lost during the French colonial period that was before the Sangkum Reastr Niyum era.

“I know this issue clearly and it is impossible for us [to get back the island] because the governments of both countries agreed [the island goes to Vietnam] based on the 1933-53 map [demarcating borders].”

According to maritime geography, Koh Trol belongs to Cambodia because of its close proximity to the Kingdom. It is located near Koh Sangsa, which is about 2km away, while Koh Trol is 45km from Vietnam, Touch said.

Political analyst Meas Ny said at this stage it is not wise to demand the return of Koh Trol island and the petition is just a stunt by a political party.

“We know the current government has no ability to pursue the case,” he said.

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