Opposition lawmaker Um Sam An took aim at National Assembly President Heng Samrin yesterday for refusing to pass on a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen requesting an investigation into land concessions in Ratanakkiri province that Sam An says are controlled by the Vietnamese military.
In the letter, Sam An, who has long accused the government of being complicit in Vietnamese encroachment, asserts that the Vietnamese military holds about 40,000 hectares of economic land concessions (ELCs) in Ratanakkiri and plans to establish a military base, a breach of Cambodia’s constitution.
“I think that Vietnamese soldiers have no legitimacy or rights to build a military base in the territory of Cambodia,” a January 25 letter from Sam An to Samrin reads.
In December, an investigation by the Cambodia Daily revealed that the chairman of four ELCs near the O’Yadav border checkpoint in Ratanakkiri, covering almost 40,000 hectares, is linked to the Vietnamese Army’s Corps 15.
In a Facebook post yesterday, Sam An, who has remained in the US following a series of high-profile arrests last year relating to ongoing border disputes, accused Samrin of abusing his power by not submitting the letter to the premier.
Leng Peng Long, a National Assembly spokesman, dismissed the allegations yesterday as unfounded, backing Samrin’s call not to pass on the letter.
“The decision was made on Monday because the letter is groundless and is context for propaganda,” he said. “Cambodia is a sovereign country, there is no military base for Vietnamese soldiers.”