Hanoi Briefed on Quashed CNRP Border Efforts

During a closed-door meeting on Monday, Defense Minister Tea Banh told a Vietnamese counterpart of the CPP’s success in suppressing an opposition campaign to highlight border incursions by Vietnam and urged Hanoi to help ensure that the issue does not re-emerge.

Speaking with Vietnam’s deputy defense minister, Nguyen Chi Vinh, in a private meeting at the Defense Ministry in Phnom Penh, General Banh touted the jailing of opposition “troublemakers” as proof that the border campaign had been put to rest.

“The opposition party has used all their effort and explored all means including attacks and accusations that Cambodia is a puppet of Vietnam and that Vietnam and Cambodia together are thieves,” he told Mr. Vinh, referring to the two countries as “siblings.”

“After the recent developments, I am proud that we can maintain our relationship at a time when the opposition force has ambitions to break up Cambodia and Vietnam,” Gen. Banh said.

The opposition has highlighted a series of instances in which it says Cambodia has ceded land near the border to Vietnam. Among the alleged incursions were irrigation ponds dug in Ratanakkiri province, a disputed border area in Svay Rieng province and the poisoning of crops by Vietnamese soldiers in Tbong Khmum province.

Opposition lawmakers Real Camerin and Um Sam An, who is in the U.S., have been at the fore of the campaign, along with opposition Senator Hong Sok Hour, who was jailed on forgery charges in August over a Facebook post accusing the government of agreeing to dissolve Cambodia’s border with Vietnam.

“Now some troublemakers have not yet come home, while for some others, we have used legal procedures to put them in jail,” Gen. Banh said during Monday’s meeting.

The defense minister also appealed for Hanoi to ensure that border issues do not flare up again.

“We need to cooperate in order to prevent them making excuses to attack us,” he said. “The result bears a heavy weight.”

CNRP President Sam Rainsy said in August that the party would stop “poking the waist” of the government on border issues, a concession that Gen. Banh seemed to celebrate in the meeting.

“This issue is in the last phase,” he said. “We have delivered strong blows and finally we have cracked down and flattened them to the ground.”

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