Rainsy Says VN Border Map Shows Intrusions

Ahead of a meeting between Cambodian and Vietnamese border officials in Phnom Penh on Monday, opposition leader Sam Rainsy said Sunday that the CNRP’s digital copy of the border map had now been set up to work with GPS technology and had already revealed misplaced border posts in Svay Rieng province.

Speaking after a ceremony at the CNRP’s Phnom Penh office to mark the anniversary of the 1997 factional fighting, Mr. Rainsy said the opposition could now take the GPS coordinates of border posts they visit and see if they lie on the true borderline.

“We have the map, and there is only one map [mandated] in the Constitution. I tested the digital map last night, and we have found a few boundary posts that have been planted inside our Cambodian territory,” Mr. Rainsy said.

“We can go to any disputed boundary post and take the coordinates from the post and put them on the digital map and the map will tell us if the post is in Cambodia or in the neighboring country. This is evidence that cannot be denied.”

Contacted by telephone afterward, Mr. Rainsy said he had entered the GPS coordinates for border posts 184, 185, 186 and 187—which should lie along the border in Svay Rieng province—and found they in fact lie inside Cambodia.

“Since I had collected the coordinates of those four posts, I used our new method and obtained the result that the four posts were inside Cambodian territory,” said Mr. Rainsy, who lived in exile in France between 2009 and 2013 to avoid criminal charges that stemmed from his uprooting marker 185.

“It was not really far in, only about 100 meters from the border,” he said. “This would not be the most serious of the border post incursions. Other Cambodian farmers have claimed they have lost more land than that, so now we can go and check those.”

In a radio interview broadcast by Voice of America on Sunday morning, Var Kimhong, the chairman of the Joint Border Committee, said he still did not believe Mr. Rainsy possessed the correct map mandated by the Constitution.

Despite a campaign by the CNRP, the government has refused to publicly release the official map of the Cambodia-Vietnam border that it uses to place posts. Mr. Kimhong said it was unlikely Mr. Rainsy found the right one.

“I do not think that the map that Sam Rainsy has is the original map because France did not print any more maps after 1955,” Mr. Kimhong said. “I think some people are using new maps to incite people to give support to them.”

“But this is not a good answer,” he continued. “The good answer is that we need to do negotiations quietly.”

Mr. Kimhong’s committee, which comprises officials from Cambodia and Vietnam and is tasked with demarcation, is also set to meet Monday for the first time since the recent flare-up of complaints about Vietnamese encroachments into Cambodia.

Mr. Kimhong said by telephone that the meeting that had been scheduled for Siem Reap City has now been moved to Phnom Penh, but declined to comment on where exactly it would take place or what issues Cambodian officials would raise.

Mr. Rainsy and the opposition party have repeatedly accused the government of refusing to release its official border map because it has been using illegal Vietnamese-drawn maps that place the borderline inside Cambodian territory.

The second article of the 1993 Constitution says that only the 1:100,000-scale map developed by the French colonial authorities and fully recognized by the U.N. in 1969 can be used by the government to determine Cambodia’s borders.

Ou Virak, a political analyst and founder of the Future Forum think tank, said that the government ought to end the dispute with Mr. Rainsy by releasing its official border map to allow for transparency and scrutiny during demarcation.

“Var Kimhong should release the map. They need to learn to be honest with their own people, and to earn their support. In situations where we lose land, or swap land and villages with Vietnam, the people need to know,” he said.

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