Two weeks after opposition leader Sam Rainsy said he would order the party’s lawmakers to stop attacking the government’s border work, CNRP lawmaker Um Sam An said Tuesday he is continuing his tour in the U.S. to tell supporters there that the CPP is using illegal border maps.
Prime Minister Hun Sen last month threatened arrest for anyone who accuses his government of using “fake” maps for demarcation, after the CNRP started a campaign accusing the government of not using the maps mandated by the Constitution.
Yet Mr. Hun Sen has acknowledged that the government does not use the Bonne maps that the Constitution says must be used to demarcate the border. Instead, it uses larger maps—created using the more modern Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) projection system—that were copied from the Bonne versions.
Mr. Sam An, who left for a U.S. tour in July and is due back in November, said he was focusing his campaign on that admission.
“I say the government’s maps are illegal because those maps differ from the maps stipulated in Article 2 of the Constitution,” he said. “It states that we use the Bonne maps at a 1:100,000 scale but the government instead has used UTM maps at a 1:50,000 scale for physical border demarcation.”
“One of the most important things I tell our brothers and sisters in America is that the government does not use the inheritance left by France [the Bonne maps] but has used the inheritance left by the Yuon in the 1980s,” he added, using a term for Vietnamese that is often considered derogatory.
Mr. Hun Sen defended the use of the UTM maps in a three-hour televised address earlier this month.
But Mr. Sam An reiterated that it was not acceptable because transferring the border lines to new maps could lead to inaccuracies.
“If there is something wrong, even with the ink of the pen, it can equal 100 meters on the physical earth,” he said.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said the government still used the Bonne maps as the basis for demarcation and only turned to the UTM maps where the border appeared unclear, which he said was not illegal.
“I’m not a map expert but what I know is that the government has used the 26 pieces of the Bonne maps…as the key principle for measuring and demarcating the border posts between Cambodia and Vietnam,” Mr. Eysan said.
“Yet for the unclear points, the 1:100,000 scale is really tiny so it needs the 1:50,000-scale UTM maps for assistance because then we can see the paddy dikes, the streams, the pagoda and ox-cart roads,” he said.
“When [Mr. Sam An] alleges the government uses illegal maps, it means he is looking down on the king and the National Assembly.”
As to whether Mr. Sam An would be arrested for his comments, Mr. Eysan said the lawmaker would find out upon his return.
“Let him come back to Cambodia first,” he said.