NA Prepares for Debate Over Border Issue

The National Assembly’s permanent commission on Tuesday distributed copies of the supplemental border agreement with Vietnam amongst the Assembly’s various parliamentary competence commissions, officials said.

No date, however, has been set for debate in the Assembly.

A copy of the fiercely question­ed agreement obtained Tues­day evening appeared similar to previous copies posted on the Internet in recent days.

Acting Assembly President Heng Samrin said that the agreement would require a simple ma­jority to pass in parliament.

King Norodom Sihamoni’s signature would also be necessary, he said, unless the King delegated an acting head of state to sign the treaty in his absence.

King Sihamoni left Tuesday to visit his parents in Beijing. Some had speculated that he was staying out of the country to avoid signing the agreement, which has been strongly opposed in some corners of the Royal Palace.

“The King goes away, but when he comes back, he may sign it,” Heng Samrin said.

He also suggested the issue had been over-politicized in both Cam­bodia and Vietnam, creating hostility on both sides of the border.

“Cambodians and Vietnamese blame each other because the border is unclear,” he said.

A clear border, he added, would benefit all and ensure that “people of both countries have no ob­stacles to doing business be­tween one another.”

Heng Samrin also defended the legality of the treaty, arguing that the Brevie line for many years has been the accepted in­ter­­national boundary between Cam­bodia and Vietnam.

“Every generation has recognized the Brevie line,” he said, putting responsibility for the loss of Koh Tral island on French colonial authorities.

Some border activists have in­sisted that the Brevie line was never intended to be an inter­na­tion­al border marker and that years of de facto recognition do not make it a legally binding entity.

Heng Samrin also said Cam­bodia would have no chance of winning back territory lost to its neighbors through an international court, an action some border activists had lobbied for.

“This is not like Preah Vihear temple,” on the border with Thai­land, he said.

Opposition lawmaker Son Ch­hay declined to comment on the document, saying he was still vetting it with lawyers and border ex­­perts.


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