Banteay Meanchey Border Closing Stuns Gov’t

Cambodian officials say they are stunned Thailand has unilaterally closed a border province for the second time in less than a year.

The Thais closed the border crossing at Banteay Meanchey province July 11 without giving a reason. In a move to resolve the new dispute, Banteay Meanchey Governor Thach Khorn has sent a letter to the governor of Thai­land’s Srah Keo province, asking for an explanation.

“We want to know why a border crossing has been closed,” the governor said Wednesday.

The closing at Boeng Trakuon is the third shutdown since officials opened the crossing in 1998.

Cambodian officials have speculated the Thais closed the border to punish Cambodia for not removing three thatched-roof houses. The houses were built in 1993, Thach Khorn said.

The closure is unacceptable, especially since the border posts have yet to be officially established, Council of Ministers’ Joint Border Committee Chairman Var Kim Hong said.

“We cannot ask our villagers to move, because we have not clearly demarcated the boundary markers,” Var Kim Hong said. He said the closing came without reason.

Eight months ago, Thailand closed the border crossing in Preah Vihear province, all but shutting off tourism to the Ang­korian temples there.

Although the temples sit on the Cambo­dian side, the only serviceable entrance is on the Thai side.

In the Preah Vihear dispute, the Thais were outraged at the presence of families living at the crossing, whom Thailand claimed were polluting the area and destroying its natural beauty.

Thai diplomats in Phnom Penh could not be reached for comment. and both of the disputed cross­­ings remained closed Wednesday.

Border disputes between Cambodia and its neighbors have been an ongoing problem in recent years, as Cambodia emerged from decades of war to demand new redresses with Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.


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