Border Chief Warns CNRP Lawmaker Over Map Accusations

The government’s point man in the ongoing discord over maps used to demarcate the border with Vietnam has accused an opposition lawmaker of inciting instability in Cambodia with his most recent comments on the issue.

On Thursday, CNRP lawmaker Um Sam An, who is currently in the U.S. sourcing maps to build his case against the government, said that Var Kimhong, chairman of the joint border committee, had lied about the location of maps at the U.S. Library of Congress.

Um Sam An, right, holds up a map of Cambodia at the US Library of Congress on Wednesday, in a photo posted to his Facebook page.
Um Sam An, right, holds up a map of Cambodia at the US Library of Congress on Wednesday, in a photo posted to his Facebook page.

“Var Kimhong told a lie: that he took the maps here from the 5th floor. In fact, the maps are held at the underground floor,” Mr. Sam An wrote on his Facebook page.

“Maybe he has never been here and he has used maps attached to a 1985 treaty when the Yuon controlled Cambodia,” he said, using a term for Vietnamese that can be considered derogatory.

A week ago, Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that anyone who accused the government of using the wrong maps in demarcating the border would face arrest.

Mr. Kimhong called a press conference on Friday at the Council of Ministers building in Phnom Penh to respond to Mr. Sam An.

“With his attitude and speech, lawmaker Um Sam An is inciting instability in Khmer society, instability along the Cambodian border and instability that obstructs the border demarcation from moving forward,” he said.

“Importantly, he has accused

us of using fake maps,” he added. “It is serious incitement and we cannot tolerate it.”

For the past three months, the CNRP has waged a campaign to prove that the government has been complicit in Vietnamese incursions into Cambodia. On August 15, opposition Senator Hong Sok Hour was arrested and imprisoned on the orders of Mr. Hun Sen, who accused him of treason over an inflammatory Facebook post about the border.

Mr. Kimhong said the potential for similar legal action against Mr. Sam An was not up to him.

“I cannot answer because it is a measure of the government.”

Contacted by telephone, Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, lashed out at Mr. Sam An, but also declined to say whether he would face arrest upon returning to Cambodia.

“I cannot predict what will happen to Um Sam An,” he said. “It is too early to say. We will see when he arrives.”

Asked if Mr. Sam An’s comments amounted to incitement, Mr. Sopheak said: “Sure. He wants to bring trouble to Cambodia, to cause trouble between Cambodia and Vietnam.”

“I can say that Um Sam An is a stubborn MP with a hard head. Does he want to be famous? Does he want to be a hero?”

(Additional reporting by Matt Blomberg)

narim@cambodiadaily.com

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