Retired King Norodom Sihanouk has agreed to head a new national border council to review Cambodia’s borders with Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, King Norodom Sihamoni wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday.
“My father Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia is very happy to serve as the president of the Supreme National Council of Border Affairs,” King Sihamoni wrote in the letter posted on the retired King’s Web site.
“My father is still strong enough to do this job,” King Sihamoni wrote. “He is directly responsible and does not stay in the office. He will go to the scene and work with the people and Thailand, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and [Laos] if those countries do not disagree,” he added. “My father is pleased to stay at the border and verify kilometer by kilometer.”
King Sihamoni said his father, who is in Beijing, will ask for representatives from Cambodia’s neighbors to verify the borders using US Army maps that were accurate between 1963 and 1969.
National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh welcomed the news and said the government would ask the UN for a map of Cambodia to use as a reference so Norodom Sihanouk could get to work as soon as he returns from Beijing.
“I think when the [former] King [Sihanouk] returns, he can invite leaders of the countries around Cambodia,” he said. “The neighbors know him and respect him, so I think probably they won’t deny.”
Though the newly formed council will try to restore Cambodia’s former territory, “we will need compromise to get a stable border,” Prince Ranariddh said.
It is still unclear exactly what powers and responsibilities the council will possess.
Monh Saphann, chairman of the National Assembly’s defense and interior commission, said the council will determine its own responsibilities and procedures.
The seven-member council will be made up of a representative from each of the three main political parties and one member each from the government, the National Assembly and the Senate.
But Koul Panha, executive director of Comfrel, said he had doubts the council could function as everyone wants because “I see no legal mechanism.”