King Signs Off On Border Pact With Vietnam Border Treaty

King Norodom Sihamoni signed the supplemental border treaty with Vietnam into effect on Wednesday, according to a statement from the King.

King Sihamoni explained that he had been persuaded that the treaty, which supplements an agreement signed with Vietnam in 1985 during the Vietnamese occu­pa­tion, was both legal and ne­ces­sary.

“The royal government, the as­sembly for which people voted, have the power, the complete res­ponsibility, to solve the border is­sue with the Socialist Republic of Vi­etnam,” the King said in the statement.

“I signed the royal decree to promulgate the supplemental treaty between Cambodia and Vietnam” for peace and stability, the King said.

“The law is urgent,” he added.

King Sihamoni wrote that Prime Minister Hun Sen, Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Rana­riddh, Deputy Senate President Prince Sisowath Chivan Monirak, Co-Interior Minister Prince Nor­o­dom Sirivudh, and Prince Noro­dom Chakrapong all recently visited him to assure him that no territory would be lost by the agreement.

Hun Sen said on Tuesday at the National Institute for Education that the border dispute was hampering development and that it was his responsibility to resolve the territorial issue.

“If we don’t have the courage to work on [the] border issue, what is the point to be prime minister?” he said.

“Prime minister, president of National Assembly, president of the Senate and his majesty the King will all sign it as one big family,” Hun Sen said of the treaty.

Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay said he worried that the King felt under pressure to sign off on the agreement.

“Some feel there was some kind of pressure to make that decision, and this is not a good thing,” he said.

Son Chhay added that if the King signed under pressure, a fu­ture government could challenge the agreement at an international court.

He reiterated that a properly fun­ded and equipped border commission joined by international observers could have resolved the issue in a less controversial manner.

Oum Daravuth, the King’s cou­sin and a member of the royal cabinet, said the King signed the treaty based on the interests of the nation. “No one dared to put pressure on the king. His Majesty has all rights and immunity,” Oum Dara­vuth said.

Retired King Norodom Siha­nouk weighed in with a letter to for­mer Cambodian diplomat Dik­ha­yuko Sen.

“King Sihamoni is not responsible for the lost Cambodia territory,” Norodom Sihanouk wrote in the letter posted to his Web site on Wednesday. “It is the government and National Assembly [who must] be responsible 100 percent for history, nation and people be­cause they lawfully represent people who voted for them.”

Center for Social Development President Chea Vannath wondered why there had been no public referendum on the controversial issue.

“What is missing, from the be­ginning, is involvement of the na­tion and the public,” she said.

“In this issue for the border, we ought to have a referendum in­volving concerned citizens. [I say this] not because it is right or wrong to sign, but there is a lack of pub­lic involvement.”

She added that without public dis­cussion and consensus, the issue would likely not be laid to rest. “I think that the chapter is not closed,” she said.


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