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CBAC defends authenticity of border topographic maps

Koy Pisey poses with the topographic maps at her office in the capital. Supplied

The Cambodia Border Affairs Committee is defending the authenticity of the newly produced topographic maps between Cambodia and Vietnam following claims they were unilaterally drawn up by Vietnam.

CBAC officials had met with the Vietnamese side on Saturday in Vietnam’s Tay Ninh province to examine and agree on the maps.

The maps are part of the demarcation protocol signed during the visit of Prime Minister Hun Sen in Hanoi on October 5, 2019, where both sides ratified 84 percent of border demarcation work completed between the nations.

It is also part of the supplementary treaty to the 1985 Treaty on the Delimitation of National Boundaries and the 2005 Supplementary Treaty.

Um Sam An, the so-called director of the Court-dissolved CNRP’s Border Affairs and Immigration Commission, has said that the former opposition did not recognise the border topographic maps, alleging that it was drawn up by the Vietnamese side.

In a statement, the ex-CNRP also called on the government to publicly verify the topographic maps scaled of 1:25,000 with the 1:100,000 scale maps made during the French colonial era.

The ex-CNRP also said they do not recognise the ratification of the 84 percent of border demarcation work completed between Cambodia and Vietnam.

According to the Constitution, 1: 100,000 scale maps were made between the years 1933-1953, and were internationally recognised between the years 1963-1969.

The meeting in Vietnam on Saturday was between a CBAC delegation led by its chairman Senior Minister Var Kim Hong and a Vietnamese delegation headed by Le Hoai Trung, Deputy Foreign Minister and Chairman of the Vietnam-Cambodia Joint Committee on Border Demarcation and Marker Planting.

The two sides approved all 500 sets of border topographic maps, of which 250 sets were in Khmer. Each side keeps 250 sets of the original maps.

Speaking after the ceremony which was broadcast through state-run TVK on Monday, Kim Hong said Cambodian officials had verified the maps multiple times before approving the official ones.

“It is a historic day that I represent the government to take the map, which was compiled by Vietnam. They are bilateral maps, but we needed them to compile [the maps] as albums or books because they have the expertise to do so,” he said. “The Vietnamese government has been helping in this.”

Kim Hong said the latest maps detail the coordination of boundary markers as well as specific borderlines and geographical locations.

“Even if we lost the poles in the future, we still can find their location,” he said.

“The map was made by a sovereign and independent Cambodia, not a country colonised by any foreign nations. We negotiated with a sovereign neighbouring nation to produce the topographic maps scaled at 1:25,000,” Kim Hong added.

Koy Pisey, CBAC vice chairwoman, who accompanied Kim Hong to receive the maps in Vietnam, has also denied that the map was drawn only by Vietnam, but by both sides.

She told local radio that these were not new maps, but newly produced ones using modern digital 4.0 technology and printed in Denmark.

Additionally, Kim Hong said that during the meeting both sides also discussed to resolve the remaining border issues between the two nations.

“I also discussed with my Vietnamese counterpart, Le Hoai Trung, on the remaining 16 percent of the border issues,” Kim Hong said, adding the prime ministers of both countries are also committed to finishing the remaining border issues as soon as possible.

“After the COVID-19 is gone, we will begin our negotiation to find a way to solve the remaining issues,” he said, adding that both sides need “goodwill” to end the issues.

Phay Siphan, Minister Delegate Attached to the Prime Minister and head of the Royal Government Spokesperson Unit, said yesterday that the border work is done with transparency and accountability.

“Neither Vietnam nor Cambodia is willing to give land to one another,” he said.

Siphan warned the activists not to gather any movement against the efforts of government over border affairs.

“None of the NGOs or activists have rights to interfere in this matter,” he said. “The use of people movement to solve the border issues is not possible.”

Authorities recently also arrested an outspoken union leader Rong Chhun for alleged “incitement” over a remark he made concerning border issues.

He was charged by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court with “incitement to commit a felony or to disturb social security” under Article 495 of the Criminal Code and faces up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 if found guilty.


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