Lawmakers say that more Cambodian land is being illegally ceded to Vietnam
Kampong Cham Province
VILLAGERS in an area bordering Vietnam in Kampong Cham province have lost land during the ongoing border demarcation process, lawmakers with the opposition Sam Rainsy Party said Wednesday.
Three SRP lawmakers invited reporters to Kak commune in Ponhea Krek district on Wednesday to see what they say is another example of authorities turning a blind eye to the loss of Cambodian territory.
Some residents in Anlong Chrey and Thlok Trach village said an old pagoda that used to be in Cambodian territory now lies on the Vietnamese side of the border – the result of a pair of markers placed in the area in 2008.
“The posts were planted into our land,” said Saum Tuon, who said he has lived in Anlong Chrey since 1987. “Thnort pagoda is now on Vietnamese land.”
Ek Yuth, a villager from Thlok Trach, said she has not lost any land as a result of the border markers that were planted in 2008. But she claimed that she lost 15 hectares of land in 1995, when Vietnamese authorities barred her from planting on land she believed was hers.
“When I planted the rice, they pulled it out,” she said.
Mao Monyvann, an SRP lawmaker from Kampong Cham, said Wednesday’s visit was intended to publicise evidence that the demarcation process is threatening Cambodian sovereignty.
“The SRP wants to see clearly with our own eyes whether the border posts were planted in Khmer land or not,” he said.
But Var Kimhong, the senior minister in charge of border affairs, brushed off the opposition lawmakers’ concerns.
The posts “were not planted into anyone’s land. It is on the borderline,” he said, and noted that National Assembly President Heng Samrin also has a house in Thlok Trach village.
“It is Samdech’s village. He has a family living there,” Var Kimhong said. “Do not worry instead of Samdech.”
Wednesday’s exercise was the latest in a series of trips SRP lawmakers have taken to border areas to draw attention to claims of Vietnamese encroachment.
Earlier this month, opposition members publicly announced their intentions to visit a border area in Takeo province, only to have their progress blocked along the way.
On Wednesday, SRP members did not tell officials beforehand that they were coming, and they faced little resistance.
Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, said the SRP’s continued border trips have been part of a deliberate political strategy.
“I think they’re successfully playing to this core constituency – those who feel that Cambodia is being swallowed by Vietnam,” he said.