The Cambodia Border Affairs Committee officials have inspected the border area in Tboung Khmum province where hundreds of hectares of land were allegedly lost to Vietnam during the border demarcation and found that this was not the case.
Var Kimhong, CBAC chairman along with his deputy Koy Pisey as well as Tboung Khmum provincial governor Cheam Chan Sophorn visited the demarcated areas in Ponhea Krek district’s Trapeang Phlong commune on Saturday, where irregularities in the installation of border markers allegedly took place.
Kimhong’s visit followed an order made by Prime Minister Hun Sen last month, asking him to inspect a demarcated area along the Vietnamese border in the province after a report of villagers claiming their farmland had been lost to Vietnam.
Speaking to reporters at the scene after an interview with the villagers, Kimhong said the allegation that farmland was lost due to border demarcation was unsubstantiated.
“The villagers never said the border demarcation caused the land to be lost, anyone who claims this is a liar,” Kimhong said. “They [villagers] also expressed their gratitude to Samdech Techo Hun Sen for his efforts in installing the border markers to protect our sovereignty.”
Before his inspection, provincial administration officials led by deputy provincial governor Hak Sok Makara also visited the border areas between border markers No 116, 117 and 118 located in Ponhea Krek district’s Trapeang Phlong commune.
Kimhong also blasted court-dissolved CNRP former officials as well as other critics who continue to make baseless accusations that the government is not paying attention to protect Cambodia’s territory.
“This is a serious issue, and not a laughing matter,” he added. “The Prime Minister already said that we will not lose even a millimetre of territory.”
Kimhong noted that the cases of Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions and Soung Sophorn, president of Khmer Win Party, who were arrested over baseless statements about border demarcation, are under investigation by the court.
Chan Sophorn echoed Kimhong’s statements, saying that after inspection provincial officials found that no land had been lost as was alleged.
“We are committed to protecting our border, we won’t allow the loss of even one millimetre,” he said. “I guarantee upon my life that the land is not lost.”
“As Khmers, we have a strong will to protect our territory and we need to join together to protect our border, especially the people who live along the border. Please be confident in the leadership of the government,” Chan Sophorn added.
After visiting the border markers and interviewing villagers last month, Chhun had said there are irregularities in the installation of border markers and the putting up of border posts from No 114 to 119 caused people to lose hundreds of hectares of land to the Vietnamese side.
Hak Maihorn, from Trapeang Phlong commune’s Trapeang Phlong village, said on Saturday Chhun had visited her village and met with the people, including her. She said she has never said she lost land due to the demarcation.
“His statement is not the truth because I did not lose land, I still enjoy my farming,” she said.
However, Um Sam An, former director of the Court-dissolved CNRP’s Border Affairs and Immigration Commission, said in a statement yesterday that Kimhong and local authorities had selectively interviewed villagers to give the impression that land was not lost.
He said Kimhong should meet all 106 villagers who reported their land was lost and not only 11 villagers.
“Some residents have been threatened or paid to lie that they have not lost their land,” he claimed.
Cambodian Youth Party President Pich Sros and a member of the Supreme Consultative Council who observed the border inspection on Saturday said some politicians had caused incitement over the border issue.
“The villagers [who claimed their land was lost] were incited to say so, but they did not lose any land,” he said.
Sros said some people are also claiming to have lost land in the hope of getting some of the unoccupied areas after the border demarcation was completed.
“The authorities cannot give this land to them [villagers] because there has been no official ceremony between both countries to hand over the demarcated areas,” he said.
Cambodia shares a 1,270-kilometre border with Vietnam and the two countries have been demarcating it since 2006. The two nations last month also exchanged border topographic maps drawn up by both sides after 84 percent of border agreements had been ratified.
Defence Minister General Tea Banh recently also defended the authenticity of the 84 percent border demarcation with Vietnam, saying the government would not “tolerate” anyone, including politicians, who caused incitement over border issues.
“We cannot tolerate anyone who says the border demarcation with Vietnam has caused land to be lost, because it is the most important thing for our nation,” he said. “We as well as the Vietnamese demarcated the border based on treaties and we obtained approval from the National Assembly.”