Cambodia’s senior minister on border affairs Var Kimhong yesterday slapped down claims by Um Sam An that maps of the Kingdom the opposition lawmaker found in America could shed new light on whether the government had correctly demarcated the Vietnam border.
Sam An on Thursday announced he had found a set of 26 maps at the United States Library of Congress in Washington “different” from those used by the government’s delineation team.
The Cambodia National Rescue Party firebrand, who has repeatedly claimed border posts have been planted according to “fake” maps favourable to Vietnam, said the set could be one of the originals submitted to the United Nations by King Norodom Sihanouk, cited in the constitution as defining Cambodia’s true borders.
But responding to the claims, Kimhong said Sam An’s attempts to be “a hero” had failed, as the government had had copies of the maps from the US library since 2003.
Attacking Sam An for stirring up further trouble on the contentious issue, and warning he would not be forgiven, he said the copies matched the government charts and were kept at the Council of Ministers in Phnom Penh.
He said the opposition lawmaker had insulted not only the government but also United Nations secretary Ban Ki-moon, who recently loaned the Kingdom maps held in the UN library.
“We cannot forgive him because he has created insecurity, political instability and riots in Cambodia, and also affected the government’s relations with other foreign countries,” he said, referring to a rally led by Sam An to the border in June that turned violent.
Prime Minister Hun Sen has publicly threatened to prosecute anyone who criticises the government’s maps, and this month ordered the arrest of an opposition senator for posting a “fake” border treaty online.
Kimhong yesterday said the government had not initiated legal action against Sam An.
He said once maps requested from France had been received and checked against the government’s charts, the issue should be finished.
Sok Touch, head of the border research team at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said he was waiting for Sam An to send the maps before verifying whether they were the same as the government’s.
He did, however, say that maps from the Library of Congress were already among five sets held by his research team.