Takeo provincial governor Lay Vannak yesterday requested his Vietnamese counterpart in An Giang province to stop their farmers from renting land from Cambodians along the border between both provinces.
Swift News reported yesterday that Mr Vannak and his officials held an annual meeting with Vuong Binh Thanh, chairman of An Giang provincial People’s Committee, and said that Mr Vannak asked Mr Binh Thanh to advise his people to stop renting Cambodian land for rice farming along the border because it was a very sensitive issue.
Reached by phone yesterday, Mr Vannak declined to comment.
Major General Sok Samnang, Takeo provincial police chief, who joined the meeting, also declined to comment.
Mr Samnang referred questions to provincial administration chief Moeng Vuthy who could not be reached.
Mr Vannak also urged the governors of Angkor Borei, Borei Cholsar and Koh Andet districts that border Vietnam’s An Giang province to ask land owners to stop leasing their farms to Vietnamese farmers or hiring Vietnamese workers to work illegally in Cambodia.
In October 2015, the Interior Ministry issued a letter to every governor of provinces along the border with Vietnam telling them to stop any residents from renting or selling land to Vietnamese nationals, citing reports that farmers were allowing foreigners to cultivate plantations in provinces along the borders with Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.
The Interior Ministry said in the letter that the measures needed to be taken to protect territory and national sovereignty.
Prime Minister Hun Sen banned Cambodians living along the country’s border from selling or leasing farmland and residential land to people from neighbouring countries in an edict released on November 17, 2015.
The main purpose of the directive was to help residents use their own land for cultivation, but government officials also said demarcating border posts would be more difficult if foreigners occupied land inside Cambodia.
Mr Hun Sen said farmers along the border should not be allowed to lease their land because the areas lacked official borders on both sides and proper land titles with the correct number of hectares had not been issued for some landowners.
Last month, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said Cambodia had finished defining 84 percent of controversial border lines with Vietnam.
Ouch Borith, secretary of state with the ministry, said the ministry was still thoroughly cooperating with the Border Committee to demarcate border posts with neighbouring countries.
“Both parties have demarcated 314 of 375 posts, and 16 percent is still being negotiated,” he said last month.
He added the ministry has been cooperating with the Cambodia Border Committee to define border lines with neighbouring countries using the so-called Bonne map, which was made by France during the colonial period.