With public statements of their own over the weekend, the national police and armed forces dutifully fell in behind Prime Minister Hun Sen’s call on Friday for swift legal action against anyone who still dared to dispute that his government was using the right maps to demarcate the country’s border with Vietnam.
Mr. Hun Sen made the threat a day after a U.N. representative brought over maps of the border that closely resembled the ones the government has been using for many years. Although the maps provided by the U.N. were not the ones designated by the Constitution to be used for border demarcation, the government was quick to claim victory over the opposition, which has suggested the government’s maps might be wrong.
Hun Sen has accused the CNRP of manipulating facts about the ruling party’s maps in hopes of inciting a revolution. Opposition Senator Hong Sok Hour was arrested over a week ago for presenting a doctored border treaty between Cambodia and Vietnam in a video posted to Facebook and was charged with forgery and incitement.
“We wish to strongly condemn the actions of some bad people who create information and falsely accuse the government to serve their own political demagoguery while the government is trying to work on the boundary issues with neighboring countries,” Defense Minister Tea Banh said in a statement posted to the ministry’s website on Friday.
“I wish to appeal [to all soldiers] to take strong action following the law in order to maintain peace, social security and public order for the people of the country,” he said.
Rights groups and opposition lawmakers have long accused the military of serving the interests of the ruling CPP, which counts several top army and police officials among its central committee members. Last month, deputy military commander Chea Dara reinforced those concerns by stating proudly that “the army belongs to the Cambodian People’s Party.”
True to form, Royal Cambodian Armed Forces commander Pol Saroeun joined in the latest public opposition bashing, insisting that the maps provided by the U.N. last week vindicated the government.
“We all wish to strongly condemn all the actions of the bad people attempting political demagoguery for political gain,” General Sarouen said in a statement dated Thursday, adopting language strikingly similar to that of the defense minister.
“The results show clearly that the government is using the legal maps, disproving what some bad people claim for political gain and to try to create turmoil in society to topple the government,” National Police chief Neth Savoeun chimed in, with a statement posted to the police’s website on Saturday.
“We wish to make a strong pledge to not allow any tricks with the maps to create turmoil,” he said.
Following the arrival of the U.N. maps and Mr. Hun Sen’s threat, the CNRP pointed out that the maps were not the ones that must be used to demarcate the border.