Rainsy: CNRP Now Has Vietnam Border Map

The CNRP is now in possession of the constitutionally mandated map of the Cambodia-Vietnam border and will soon start using it with GPS technology to confirm whether border posts have been correctly placed along the 1,228-km frontier, opposition leader Sam Rainsy said Sunday.

CNRP lawmakers have for the past month called on the government to release the official map of the Vietnamese border to allow CNRP teams to verify whether markers have been properly erected, but have been met only by refusals.

A scanned image of the 1:100,000-scale map of Cambodia's colonial borders, which was collected by the CNRP from the National Geographic Institute in Paris
A scanned image of the 1:100,000-scale map of Cambodia’s colonial borders, which was collected by the CNRP from the National Geographic Institute in Paris

Mr. Rainsy said Sunday that the opposition circumvented the government by collecting scanned copies of the maps, which were created during the French colonial occupation, from the National Geographic Institute in Paris.

The 26 constituent pieces of the map—drawn at a scale of 1:100,000—will be used to assist CNRP lawmakers during their inspections of alleged territorial violations by Vietnam.

“We want to check the markers. We need a computer application to digitize the maps and we will inspect the border markers and collect their GPS coordinates, and the computer will help us verify those specific spots,” said Mr. Rainsy.

“We will check whether the markers already erected are inside or outside Cambodian territory on the map.”

Each of the 26 map sections was scanned at a high resolution at the institute in Paris by Hong Sok Hour, a senator for the Sam Rainsy Party, and brought back to Cambodia due to the government’s unwillingness to provide its copy, he said.

The Constitution says the border map drawn between 1933 and 1953 at a scale of 1:100,000 is the only legal one.

“There is only one map. This is the map,” Mr. Rainsy said. “It’s exactly what the Constitution says.”

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said the government would be happy to verify that the map in the CNRP’s possession was the correct map but agreed with Mr. Rainsy that it should be readily apparent.

“There is only one map,” Mr. Eysan said. “The map the government uses to demarcate Cambodia-Vietnam border was left from the French colonial regime…and this map was also kept at the U.N. by King Norodom Sihanouk in 1964.”

“Therefore, there is nothing strange about this. If he has the map, please bring it to the government’s border committee, and the border committee will verify it,” he said.

Var Kimhong, the Cambodian head of the joint border committee with Vietnam, said he was unsure how the CNRP has been accusing his committee of misplacing border markers without such a map, but said he would welcome scrutiny.

“I’m happy the CNRP has the map now. They have criticized us for many years without a map,” Mr. Kimhong said.

“The CNRP’s I.T. and GPS experts can do this. If they have the ability to measure the border markers with GPS and their map, we congratulate them,” Mr. Kimhong added. “This is for the sake of our country…and the national interest.”

“We welcome the CNRP having maps to work with.”

Since last month, CNRP lawmakers have been examining claims of violations along the border in Kandal, Svay Rieng, Tbong Khmum and Ratanakkiri provinces, with the CPP government subsequently complaining to Vietnam about some of the incursions.

Mr. Rainsy said the opposition had no plans to scour the entirety of the 1,228-km border with Vietnam for incursions, but said the maps and GPS would help improve the party’s analysis when claims of Vietnamese violations arise.

“We will do this by sample where there are complaints from the population,” Mr. Rainsy said. “We will just not go out of the blue and into the jungle. It depends on the villages and the border areas where people complain about lost land.”

willemyns@cambodiadaily.com, dara@cambodiadaily.com

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