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NA nixes SRP Takeo border investigation

NA nixes SRP Takeo border investigation

THE National Assembly has said that a group of Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers will not be permitted to visit a border area in Takeo province that is the site of alleged Vietnamese incursions, party officials said.

On Monday, the SRP wrote to Assembly President Heng Samrin to inform him that lawmakers would be travelling to Anchanh village in Borei Cholsa district to survey the location of border post No 270, which villagers say has been planted inside Cambodia.

“We want to see with our own eyes, as members of parliament. We want to hear what the people have to say,” SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua said Tuesday, describing the trip as a “fact-finding mission”.

But in a letter Tuesday, Heng Samrin wrote that he “would not allow and would not be responsible” for the SRP’s trip.

Another letter from the National Assembly’s secretariat stated that if the SRP wanted information about the border-demarcation process, it should direct questions to the government.

SRP spokesman and lawmaker Yim Sovann said Tuesday that the party still plans to make the trip, and that permission is not needed.

“We just informed the assembly president we would go,” he said. “The law and regulations of the assembly do not state that before going to visit people and fulfilling our duties throughout Cambodia it is necessary to ask permission.”

The Takeo allegations come amid an SRP campaign that has drawn attention to alleged border encroachments in Svay Rieng province’s Chantrea district. In January, SRP president Sam Rainsy was sentenced in absentia to two years in jail after he joined villagers in pulling up wooden border markers in October.

Tith Sothea, a member of the Council of Ministers’ Press and Quick Reaction Unit, said local authorities will block the lawmakers if they try to travel to the Takeo border area.

“They are afraid of these people’s representatives falling down into anarchy, the same as Sam Rainsy’s case in Svay Rieng province,” he said, and added that the allegations of encroachment are “baseless”.