Military Officials Urge Border Finalization

An absence of border indicators may leave Cambodia open to disputes with Thailand, according to some military officials who say they do not have the training or maps to properly define where the two countries meet.

The officials urged the government to finalize borders with Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.

Following a meeting last week, military officials blamed a recent border dispute in Preah Vihear province on the fact that their soldiers have no way to tell what is or is not Cambodian soil.

“It is hard to say who the land belongs to because there is no demarcation, only empty land,” said General Mean Sarin, deputy commander of RCAF infantry.

“I have no experience in border demarcation so I can’t mention it. Let the government do it,” Mean Sarin said Wednesday.

A Cambodian border dispute commission is expected to meet soon to review border areas, according to commission chief Var Kim Hong, who disagreed that demarcation would be a problem. Var Kim Hong said Cambodia has enough knowledge and manpower to survey border areas. He said the government would use a French-made map from 1908 as a reference.

But Thai Foreign Minister Surin Pitsuwan said during a visit to Cambodia earlier this month that the two countries have yet to agree on which map to use when defining the border.

Earlier this month, military officials claimed Thai soldiers cros­sed over the Cambodian border in the Choam Te area of the prov­ince—at first calling it an invasion but later saying the alleged incursion was only a misunderstanding in an area where, until recently, Khmer Rouge occupation made the border ambiguous.

“In these areas [defining the border] is very complicated,” General Chea Saran, an RCAF deputy commander, said last week.



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