CNRP Hands Over Border Maps to Researcher

The opposition CNRP on Monday handed over its digital maps of Cambodia’s international borders to Sok Touch, a high-profile researcher from the Royal Academy of Cambodia who the government has appointed to conduct research intended to end a recent political spat over the border.

Led by a group of lawmakers, the opposition launched a campaign two months ago accusing the government of complicity in Vietnamese border encroachments and illegally ceding territory to Vietnam by using maps other than the one specified in the Constitution during demarcation talks.

Sam Rainsy Party Senator Hong Sok Hour points to a copy of a map that shows a stretch of Cambodia's international border, at the CNRP's headquarters in Phnom Penh on Monday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Sam Rainsy Party Senator Hong Sok Hour points to a copy of a map that shows a stretch of Cambodia’s international border, at the CNRP’s headquarters in Phnom Penh on Monday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

The government has refused to release its maps to the lawmakers but last week provided them to Mr. Touch, who heads the international relations institute at the Royal Academy.

On Monday, Hong Sok Hour, an opposition senator who collected the CNRP’s maps from France, handed over printouts to Mr. Touch in a ceremony at the party’s headquarters in Phnom Penh so that the researcher can compare them to the CPP’s.

Mr. Sok Hour said that the maps handed to Mr. Touch are identical to the ones created by the French between 1933 and 1953 and mandated by the second article of the Constitution.

However, Mr. Sok Hour said the CNRP would not necessarily recognize Mr. Touch’s findings.

“Of course, we have to listen [to find out] whether or not the findings are acceptable, because we also have our own proof and information for consideration too,” he said.

“We can discuss with Sok Touch about his outcomes to find out what he found…and then we can challenge, discuss and compare it.”

CNRP lawmaker Um Sam An, who has helped lead the opposition’s campaign, questioned whether Mr. Touch’s research would be fully independent.

“We have noticed that Dr. Sok Touch has recently said some things repeating what Prime Minister Hun Sen has said about the border,” he said.

“So it seems whatever he is doing is for the government, so it’s hard to say if the research will be independent.”

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said the CPP trusted Mr. Touch and would accept his findings.

“The government and the CPP welcomes all concerned parties offering documents to the Royal Academy of Cambodia to do border research with transparency for all,” he said. “The government and the CPP will accept the final results.”

“The result will be credible,” Mr. Eysan said.

Mr. Touch could not be reached for comment Monday, but he said on Friday that his research would be free from any “influence from the government” and was being done only to help end the arguments over the border.

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