Border disputes more than doubled from 1998 to 1999, with a majority of cases happening in Takeo province, according to a report issued by the Ministry of Interior this week.
The report said there were 106 cases of border disputes in 1999, compared to 47 cases in 1998. Only three disputes in 1999 involved Thais, and the rest involved Vietnamese.
In addition, the report said the border areas are teeming with uncontrollable “social disturbances.” In 1999, there were 53 robberies, 18 shootings, 12 murders, two kidnappings and 57 illegal immigrants crossing the border. In those cases, 16 Cambodians and seven Vietnamese were killed, the report said.
Of the border disputes, 62 occurred in Takeo, 32 in Kompong Cham, eight in Svay Rieng and one in Ratanakkiri. The report said 81 cases, including two involving Thais, have been solved.
The report said the land encroachments mainly had to do with Thais or Vietnamese not allowing Cambodian farmers to plant seeds and build dams.
Border disputes have been an ongoing issue between the Cambodian government and its neighbors, and a cause for protests by student groups.
Lay Sokha, second deputy governor of Takeo, said Thursday that 12 Vietnamese families protected by armed guards took 14 hectares of land last month in Borei Cholsar district to cultivate.
Cambodian officials told the Vietnamese not to farm on the land but in the end decided to leave the case to the national governments of both countries to resolve, he said.
Chu Dong Loc, spokesman for the Vietnamese embassy, said he did not know about the cases listed in the Interior Ministry report, but said the Vietnamese government’s position is to resolve all border disputes through peaceful negotiations.
“We have agreed to resolve all the border issues before the end of 2000,” he said. “We have held two rounds of talks on border issues and we will continue to meet on the issue this year.”