Just hours after Prime Minister Hun Sen threatened to jail anyone who accused the government of using Vietnamese-drawn maps to demarcate the country’s eastern border, opposition leader Sam Rainsy posted an update to his Facebook page on Tuesday accusing the government of ceding sovereign Cambodian territory to Vietnam.
It was one of the first times Mr. Rainsy had raised the issue—a perennial rallying cry for the opposition and an irritant for Mr. Hun Sen—since promising in August to stop “poking the waist” of Mr. Hun Sen by accusing him of complicity in incursions.
CNRP lawmaker Um Sam An, one of the main proponents of the claim, was sent to prison this week for making the claim on Facebook last year.
Mr. Rainsy himself faces serious charges in Cambodia and is in self-imposed exile in Paris to avoid being jailed here. He wrote on Tuesday that it seemed the CPP had a lot to hide about the border.
“If the government has properly managed the border issue and if it has nothing to hide, it should allow anybody to freely visit the border areas, which is not the case now,” Mr. Rainsy wrote, adding that the CNRP’s border complaints were about more than just maps.
“The REAL issue is with the proper USE and IMPLEMENTATION on the ground, of information and data contained in the maps, when it comes to delineating the legal border line with neighboring countries, especially Vietnam.”
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan denied that the government was ceding land to Vietnam. “What Sam Rainsy says about us losing land to Vietnam—we are not stupid,” he said.
“He wants to seem against the Vietnamese, but in fact his mother is Vietnamese. We have no mothers who are Vietnamese, and we will not give land to Vietnam.”
Mr. Rainsy’s mother was Cambodian, but some rumors popular among ruling party supporters claim that she was also of Vietnamese heritage. Mr. Rainsy did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.