The Vietnamese Embassy agreed to allow representatives of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom minority in southern Vietnam to visit Cambodia to accept Khmer-language Buddhist texts from Cambodia-based Khmer Krom organizations.
The offer, however, was rejected by the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Coordination Committee, which has demanded the right to travel to southern Vietnam without visas to deliver the texts directly to Khmer Krom Buddhist pagodas there.
Foreign Ministry Undersecretary of State Long Visalo wrote to Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Keo Remy informing him of the Vietnamese offer, according to a copy of the letter received Thursday.
“The Vietnamese do not mind, but they ask the Ministry of Cult and Religion to work with the Vietnamese authorities and invite the Khmer Kampuchea Krom to come to Cambodia to accept the Buddhist books,” he wrote.
Keo Remy had requested that the Foreign Ministry facilitate the requests for book delivery to Vietnam.
Kim Vannchheng, executive director of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Coordination Committee, said Thursday that Vietnam’s offer cannot be accepted. “It is contrary to Cambodian culture,” he said. “We cannot accept their answer. According to our culture, we have to send those Buddhist books directly to the pagoda.”
The Khmer Krom in Vietnam will not receive an invitation to visit Cambodia, said Kim Vannchheng, adding that he will broach the issue with the Ministry of Cult and Religion. If, however, Vietnam continues to refuse the committee’s request, the Khmer Krom community in Cambodia will hold demonstrations, he warned.
The territory known as Kampuchea Krom, located in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region, was ceded to Vietnam by French colonial authorities in 1949. It is an emotive issue for many people.