Opposition CNRP lawmaker Yem Ponhearith, who chairs the National Assembly’s committee on education, sport and religion, said Sunday that he will lead an expedition to Kampot province’s Bokor Mountain next month to inspect Vietnamese graves said to be drawing Vietnamese tourists.
A number of posts on social media over past months have complained about Vietnamese people visiting shrines and graves on Bokor Mountain, usually with comments suggesting that the practice has a negative effect on Cambodian culture.
Mr. Ponhearith said Sunday that he was unsure about the validity of the claims on social media but would lead his committee to the mountain to investigate.
“We will go to keep track of this site,” he said. “I only just heard about this information after a few people mentioned this issue through mobile phones and social networks.”
Mr. Ponhearith declined to comment further on the planned trip, which he said would take place on February 11 and 12, saying that he would wait until his committee had paid a visit to the site to draw conclusions on the issue.
Kampot provincial governor Khoy Khun Huor criticized Mr. Ponhearith’s plans, explaining that there are no Vietnamese graves on Bokor Mountain, but that some Vietnamese tourists simply climb the mountain to meditate.
“There are no such graves,” Mr. Khun Huor said. “This is an old issue, and those who love the nation should not talk about this, as it is useless. What people have raised [about the Vietnamese graves] does not bring us any benefits.”
“It’s normal for them to come and meditate,” Mr. Khun Huor said of Vietnamese tourists visiting the mountain.
Sam Ouk, the police chief of Toek Chhu district, where Bokor Mountain is located, said Mr. Ponhearith had not yet notified his station of his trip but that police would facilitate the lawmaker’s expedition.
“We haven’t received anything yet,” he said. “But the authorities and our forces will provide protection if any leaders come here to visit.”