Border Activists Fear Work Is Not Respected

More and more border acti­vists are sending reports of border en­croachment to retired King Noro­dom Sihanouk’s Web site, but they fear the government won’t pay any attention to their findings.

Pang Sokhoeun, president of the Students’ Movement for De­mo­cracy, said Tuesday his organization has worked tirelessly to monitor the border but worried their work will be in vain.

Activists in his organization don’t have access to Global Po­si­tioning Satellite devices, he said, and he fears the government will dismiss their work as “informal, unreliable and not properly technical.”

To prevent that from happening, Pang Sokhoeun said he has asked King Norodom Sihamoni to lobby the government to appoint of­ficials with professional credentials to cooperate with border ac­ti­vist groups.

The King has yet to respond, he said.

Following his appointment as chairman of the Supreme Border Council in May, retired King Nor­o­dom Sihanouk urged ordinary Cam­bodians to report cases of bor­der encroachment directly to him.

The Students’ Movement for De­mocracy and the ultra-nationalist Khmer Front Party have since embraced the royal call to report encroachment.

Buth Raksmei Kongkea, president of the Khmer Border Pro­tec­tion Organization, said his group has also sent reports about specific cases of border encroachment to the retired King and the Supreme Border Council.

But he, too, questioned the gov­ernment’s desire to maintain the integrity of the country’s borders.

Var Kim Hong, chairman of the government’s border committee, on Tuesday declined to comment on border reports posted on the re­tired King’s Web site.

He said he did not know whe­ther the government would take them seriously or not.

When asked about the idea of ap­pointing government officials to work with the border activist groups, Var Kim Hong angrily de­nounced such activities.

“NGOs cannot tell the government to do this or that,” he fumed. “Is the government in the lead or are NGOs?”

Chea Vannath, president of the So­cial Development Center, said Thursday that the government and activists groups should cooperate to resolve the border issue.

“We all have the same goal,” she said.

She also warned the activist groups not to assume that the government wouldn’t pay attention to their reports and ideas.

“Don’t be prejudiced before you try,” she said.

 

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