National Assembly President Heng Samrin’s native village is, as map lines go, technically inside of Vietnam, the head of Cambodia’s Royal Academy said at a recent press conference.
The comments by Sok Touch, who has been at the forefront of government efforts to examine the Vietnamese border in recent years, follow years of controversy over the positioning of the Tbong Khmum province town where the Cambodian People’s Party stalwart was born.
Speaking at the Royal Academy on Friday, Touch said that according to the French colonial-era Bonne map, which is referred to in the constitution as defining the Kingdom’s territory, the location of Samrin’s home in Thlok Trach is in Vietnam.
Though the issue has been highly sensitive for the CPP, which vehemently rejected claims by opposition members that it had ceded land to Vietnam, spokesman Sok Eysan yesterday backed the academic’s claim.
“The map line runs at the west of Samdech Heng Samrin’s house,” Eysan said by phone.
However, though Eysan – and government spokesman Phay Siphan – agreed that the map shows the house to be on the Vietnamese side of the border, that could change.
Vietnamese and Cambodian experts are still working to demarcate the eastern boundary and, as part of that, have some leeway to shift the borderline.
In 2012, Senior Minister in Charge of Border Affairs Var Kimhong caused a stir when he suggested Cambodia may have to swap two villages to keep Samrin’s home, in Ponhea Krek district’s Kak commune, in Cambodia.
He later denied that would be the case and declined to discuss the villages’ status yesterday.