After the government’s latest threat to sue Sam Rainsy over his use of maps and other documents that he says proves land has been lost to Vietnam, the exiled opposition leader fired back yesterday, presenting yet another map that he said showed that border demarcation posts he uprooted in October were well within Cambodian territory and not on the border with Vietnam.
“If they completely demarcate in that location, it completely invades” Cambodia, Mr Rainsy said via video link from Paris to views gathered at SRP headquarters in Phnom Penh.
The opposition leader yesterday presented a Google Earth satellite image on which four border markers were superimposed. The coordinates of the markers, which were taken from a 1985 border treaty with Vietnam, are in agreement with the officially recognized French map from 1952, according to Mr Rainsy.
Three of the temporary markers on the screen, including one Mr Rainsy said he removed in October, were clearly shown to encroach on Cambodian territory, according to Mr Rainsy presentation.
“I am happy to see that I went there and pulled out the demarcation post,” he said. “Now the nations wins. If we keep quiet they get our territory and we will lose,” he added.
Mr Rainsy was convicted in absentia last month and sentenced to two years in jail for his role in uprooting demarcation posts on the border with Vietnam in Svay Rieng province in October. Two villagers who took part in the symbolic protest by Mr Rainsy were jailed also.
The opposition leader’s unrepentant remarks yesterday come after the threat of another lawsuit by the Cambodian government, which claims that past maps Mr Rainsy released to make his case deceived the public.
But Mr Rainsy said yesterday that the maps were correct.
“I have learned with other experts from universities in France that what Sam Rainsy said is right and what the government said is wrong,” the opposition leader told the crowd of about 50 during the 90-minute video conference.
Var Kimhong, head of the government’s border commission, declined yesterday to comment on the latest news conference, saying that the issues involved are “very technical.”
“I don’t want to make any comment because I didn’t see what Sam Rainsy said,” Mr Kimhong said.
Mr Kimhong said there had not yet been a response to a letter written last week by SRP lawmakers. The missive demands answers to six questions about the Vietnam-Cambodia border demarcation process.
A response, Mr Kimhong added, “depends on the decision of the prime minister.”
(Additional reporting by Clancy McGilligan)