Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Researcher calls for calm over VN border

Researcher calls for calm over VN border

Royal Academy of Cambodia researcher Sok Touch talks about the results of his border investigation yesterday during a press conference in Phnom Penh.
Royal Academy of Cambodia researcher Sok Touch talks about the results of his border investigation yesterday during a press conference in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

Researcher calls for calm over VN border

The Royal Academy’s head border researcher has appealed for calm in the wake of findings that some Vietnamese border posts were indeed planted inside Cambodian territory during the 1980s, telling people to blame “history”, more specifically, the French.

Six months after a furore over alleged territorial encroachment by Vietnam, propelled by some Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmakers, sparked what many saw as the beginning of a brutal state crackdown on the opposition, academic Sok Touch asked that cooler heads prevail as the countries continue their ongoing delineation of disputed border regions.

After reiterating findings, first revealed on Sunday, that three posts in Tbong Khmum were between 5 and 50 metres within Cambodia, Touch moved to stress that the situation wasn’t permanent, and that GPS technology, as well as the future publication of his research, would ensure boundaries were clear and respected in the future.

“I told people not to be worried, there is no loss of land. We will exchange the land back,” Touch said, estimating more than 10 hectares was likely affected.

By the same token, Touch noted that his research, which was commissioned by the government after last year’s controversy and remains ongoing, had discovered two border markers that were positioned in Vietnamese lands, including number 171 in Bavet town, which had been planted in the middle of a Vietnamese house.

Touch said that the government had, on his advice, inspected the two areas, which could be used in a land exchange, and also noted the presence of border markers within Cambodia evoked a somewhat more excessive reaction than those erected within Vietnam.

“If [border posts] were planted inside our Khmer land, a demonstration would take place,” Sok Touch said.

National sensitivity over the integrity of Cambodia’s borders grew over centuries as the neighbouring powers of Siam (today’s Thailand) and Vietnam ate into the dwindling Angkorian Empire.

Touch suggested French efforts to map the region in the 19th and 20th centuries, when it ruled as a colonial power, had created many of the disputed areas.

As for who made Cambodia lose territory, he said, “It is history. It is not Hun Sen. It is not Lon Nol. It is not Pol Pot,” he said.

In recent years, anxiety over the border, particularly the eastern boundary, has been wielded by the CNRP to rouse popular support, often by linking the government to Vietnam, whose military helped oust the Khmer Rouge regime and installed the current ruling party’s core members in power in the 1980s.

CNRP lawmaker Um Sam An, among the opposition’s most ardent border campaigners who led rallies to disputed sites last year, dismissed Touch’s findings as government-biased.

“Ask farmers on the border if they lose farmland or not,” he said.

Senior Border Affairs Minister Var Kimhong declined to comment yesterday, while government spokesman Phay Siphan backed Touch’s work.

MOST VIEWED

  • Construction begins on $1.5B Kampot seaport

    The International Multi-Purpose Logistics and Port Centre, principally invested by Kampot Logistics and Port Co Ltd and projected to cost $1.5 billion, has officially broken ground in Bokor town, Kampot province. The multi-purpose logistics and port centre, located in Prek Tnaot commune, will be built on

  • Cambodia eyes key role in electronics, auto hubs in SEA

    Two roadmaps, part of the LDC’s economic diversification plan, were designed to see it through its migration process, but experts say the journey might be arduous, particularly in the presence of two established hubs in the region By 2028, Cambodia hopes to have exited the

  • Hun Neng, lawmaker and PM’s brother, passes away aged 72

    Hun Neng, chairman of the 4th Commission of the National Assembly, has passed away from heart disease at the age of 72 on the afternoon of May 5, according to the Ministry of Information. Hun Neng is the older brother of Prime Minister Hun Sen, and was

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • PM meets with US business giants

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has met with a number of major US companies who have expressed interest in investing in Cambodia, in a meeting convened by the US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC). A delegation of companies – including Amazon, Meta, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Ford, Visa and Pernod

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with