Opposition CNRP lawmaker Um Sam An on Tuesday criticized Prime Minister Hun Sen’s admission last week that the CPP government has not been using the maps that are mandated by the Constitution for its demarcation of Cambodia’s border with Vietnam.
Mr. Hun Sen said in a televised speech on September 8 that the government had copied the borderline from the Bonne maps, which the Constitution says are the only legal ones, onto larger and more modern Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) maps for use in demarcation.
The two sets of maps use a different method for projecting the spherical shape of the Earth onto a flat plane, and Mr. Sam An said that he feared Cambodia may have lost land in the process of redrawing the borderline onto new maps.
“Regarding the matter of the maps, I still demand the government use the 1:100,000-scale Bonne maps to do it, in accordance with Article 2 of the Constitution,” Mr. Sam An said.
“On the issue of copying the maps from the 1:100,000-scale Bonne maps to the 1:50,000-scale UTM maps, they were made in Vietnam and reprinted in Vietnam, making us Cambodians suspicious they could have been incorrectly copied,” he said. “If there was an error in copying of just 1 centimeter, it would mean 1 kilometer of physical earth.”
“Therefore, the 1:50,000-scale UTM maps should not be used, as it makes Cambodia lose land, and especially [because] the UTM maps contradict Article 2 of the Constitution.”
In his speech, Mr. Hun Sen acknowledged that although the government was not using the Bonne maps for demarcation, the borderline from those maps was copied exactly onto the more accurate UTM maps.
“The 1:100,000-scale Bonne map is difficult for finding the principal points for planting border markers,” Mr. Hun Sen said. “That is why the two parties agreed to transfer from the 1:100,000-scale Bonne map to a 1:50,000-scale UTM map.”
Koy Pisey, the deputy head of Cambodia’s border affairs committee, said Tuesday that Mr. Hun Sen had already defended the constitutionality of copying over the borderline.
“I have no interpretation to make of Um Sam An’s opinions because Um Sam An is always creating issues,” Ms. Pisey said. “The prime minister’s speech was three hours long and was very detailed and clear enough.”
“[Mr. Hun Sen] already delivered a clear speech that was acceptable for everyone except Um Sam Am, so let him say what he wants. But he should take responsibility for himself,” she added. “Um Sam An should stop, because even his leader has stopped.”
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy has ordered the CNRP’s 55 lawmakers to stop attacking the CPP over the Vietnamese border, but Mr. Sam An said that such a directive does not mean that lawmakers cannot talk about the border at all.
“We will still raise the border issue if people still protest over losses of farmland along the border,” Mr. Sam An said.