Lawmakers Seek Explanation for Temple Pact

National Assembly lawmakers have scheduled a meeting on Aug 2 with top tourism officials to question them about an agreement signed by So Mara, former director general of tourism, and Thai officials concerning the management of Preah Vihear temples, a parliamentarian said.

The National Assembly also will ask the tourism officials whether they were aware of the Preah Vihear deal or if they have information regarding any other pacts So Mara may have signed, said Nan Sy, a Funcinpec lawmaker.

Veng Sereyvuth, minister of tourism, and tourism Secretaries of State Nuth Nin Doeurn and Thong Khon, were summoned to the meeting Wednesday.

The National Assembly also will discuss tourism promotion with the three tourism officials, Nan Sy said.

CPP member Chan Ven, dep­uty secretary-general for the National Assembly, said the Preah Vihear temple agreement “is the main topic we want to ask questions about.”

So Mara, who is reported to be in the US, was fired after National Assembly lawmakers pressed Prime Minister Hun Sen to dismiss him over a deal giving Thai­land joint management of the Preah Vihear temples. He will retain a low-ranking “civil service” position at the tourism ministry.

Although Nan Sy said the Nat­ional Assembly will question the tourism officials on the Preah Vihear deal and So Mara, officials from the Ministry of Tourism said the National Assembly will only ask questions regarding tourism investment in Cambodia.

“It is not true that we were ask­ed to come to the meeting to dis­cuss Preah Vihear or So Mara,” Nuth Nin Doeurn said. “[National Assembly members] may ask us about Preah Vihear when we are at the meeting because at these meetings they can ask what they want to, but we were invited to discuss investment of tourism.”

He said his invitation to the Aug 2 meeting did not mention Preah Vihear or So Mara. Thong Khon said he also received a re­quest Wednesday to discuss tour­ism investment. He said the invitation did not mention Preah Vi­hear or So Mara.

Nan Sy said he was certain National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Hun Sen agreed to question the tourism officials about Preah Vihear and So Mara.

After So Mara was fired Tues­day, Veng Sereyvuth issued a letter to Thai officials saying he would nullify the June 1 agreement made between So Mara and Thai officials that allows­ Thailand to help in managing the tour­ist facilities at the temples.

In a letter to the Thai president of the Tourism Authority of Thai­land, Veng Sereyvuth wrote that So Mara was only a representative of the Ministry of Tourism and did not have the authority to sign any agreement. “He signed the agreement without the ap­proval of the Ministry of Tour­ism,” Veng Sereyvuth wrote.


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