Top Academic Says Heng Samrin’s Hometown Is in Vietnam

The home of National Assembly President and CPP stalwart Heng Samrin is technically located inside Vietnam, though the area is settled by Cambodians, the government’s top academic tasked with researching border issues revealed on Friday.

Sok Touch, president of the country’s highest academic institution, the government-run Royal Academy of Cambodia, made the claim at a news conference announcing that a book on the creation of the Laos-Cambodia border would be published in the coming months.

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Sok Touch points to a map of Cambodia’s border during a press conference in 2015 at the Royal Academy in Phnom Penh. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Mr. Touch said official maps showed that Mr. Samrin’s native village in Tbong Khmum province’s Ponhea Krek district was situated in Vietnam.

“Samdech Heng Samrin, who took Vietnam soil, lives on it because it is de facto [Cambodian soil],” he said. “Because when the map is used, the land that Samdech Heng Samrin lives on belonged to Vietnam, but he has lived there so long.”

Laos had similarly attempted to settle on Cambodian land recently, he said. “Then, we are afraid of the de facto settlement there. That’s why we impose an ultimatum,” he said, referring to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s negotiations with his Laotian counterpart earlier this month after nearly 100 Laotian soldiers amassed at the border.

When a reporter asked if Vietnam was encroaching on Cambodian land, Mr. Touch retorted that such rumors were baseless.

“Where is the border post that Vietnam stations its troops in Cambodia like Laos? And does the government not pay attention to it? Please tell me,” he said, adding that critics who allege Vietnamese encroachment were playing a “game” that could affect national security. “If you use that game, it amounts to insecurity. We will take action,” he warned. “I do not know what action because I am an academic and I am not a politician. But the law would take action. It is wrong,” he added.

In a Facebook post on Sunday, Eng Chhay Eang, a CNRP vice president, said that though Mr. Samrin never mentioned his hometown was in Vietnam, he should be lauded for developing it.

“Samdech [Mr. Samrin] tries to develop it, build roads, canals and construct homes for villagers to protect Samdech’s [Mr. Samrin’s] home village,” he said.

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