Council of Ministers Lambastes Sam Rainsy for Citing $168 Map

The Council of Ministers released a statement on Friday blasting CNRP President Sam Rainsy over a French-made map he posted to Facebook, claiming the opposition leader was disrespecting the territorial integrity of Cambodia.

The Council of Ministers said Mr. Rainsy was complicating debates over Cambodia’s border with Vietnam by sharing a map that was bought for $168. The map was purchased from France’s National Geographic Institute by opposition Senator Hong Sok Hour last month.

“[Mr. Rainsy] also intended to show that the map that he bought from a market in France has much more value than the official map that the government has been using” to demarcate the border with Vietnam, the statement said.

“Is the value of Cambodian sovereignty in the eyes of His Excellency Sam Rainsy and the Cambodia National Rescue Party $168 only?”

According to Mr. Rainsy, Mr. Sok Hour obtained the map so the opposition could determine whether the government has properly placed posts along the border with Vietnam.

Within a week of the CNRP announcing its possession of the map, Var Kimhong, the government’s minister in charge of border affairs, called a press conference during which he unveiled the government’s own map, splaying it across the carpet in an office at the Council of Ministers building in Phnom Penh.

After decades of denying any errors in the government’s border demarcation work, Prime Minister Hun Sen last week admitted that some posts may be inside Cambodian territory, and that the government would “demand corrections” in such instances.

Mr. Rainsy said Sunday that he shared the map purchased in Paris to show how easy it was to obtain the map to which Cambodia’s borders are constitutionally required to adhere.

“I thought it would be helpful for people who defend Cambodia’s interests to know that such a map is available, that is all,” Mr. Rainsy said, calling the Council of Ministers’ interpretation of his decision “very far-fetched.”

(Additional reporting by Colin Meyn)

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