Cambodia Still Controls ‘Three Rocks’: Scholar

An academic tasked with re­searching the country’s border with Vietnam visited the latest flashpoint of political tension—the “Three Rocks” village in Takeo province—on Wednesday and determined that the boulders were still under Cambodian control.

Apart from being home to three massive boulders measuring up to 4 meters high and 20 meters around, Three Rocks, or Thmar Bei Dom, is a tourist destination home to the Three Rocks casino, as well as a statue of Neak Ta Thmar Bei Dom, a lucky spirit, and a popular shrine.

Mr. Touch—who was tasked by the government last year with conducting research in an attempt to depoliticize heated disputes over the integrity of Cambodia’s border with Vietnam—visited the site after a prominent political personality claimed that the area had come under Vietnamese control following a visit to the area late last year.

“We have visited the area and saw that two rocks are in Khmer land, but the third rock is on the borderline,” he said, adding that the village in Borei Cholsar district still seemed to be under Cam­bodian control.

“The three rocks are in  Khmer land and they have been controlled by Khmer authorities for generations, and they are still controlled by Khmer authorities,” Mr. Touch said, adding that Cam­bodian farm­ers were still cultivating land in the area.

Kem Ley, leader of the Khmer for Khmer political advocacy group, visited the site with youth activists in December and said that local residents had reported seeing Viet­namese farmers move closer and closer to the boulders until they were finally claimed by Vietnam­ese authorities earlier that month.

The CPP chief of Kompong Kra­saing commune, where the rocks lie, corroborated Mr. Ley’s findings during an interview last month.

Mr. Ley stood by his account Wednesday.

“I think that the area is in Viet­nam because Vietnamese authorities were standing there and did not allow our Khmer people to get there,” he said.

Takeo provincial governor Lay Vannak said he was prepared to jail anyone in his jurisdiction who claimed the Three Rocks village was under Vietnamese control.

“I will arrest people and put them in handcuffs if they come to the area and claim that the Three Rocks were lost to Vietnam be­cause they use political demagoguery to cheat people,” he said.

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