Cambodia Border Affairs Committee chairman Var Kimhong yesterday defended the signing of the Kingdom’s border demarcation agreement with Vietnam, saying that no land was lost in the process.
Mr Kimhong appeared yesterday before the Supreme Consultative Council at Peace Palace to be grilled over the signing of two legal documents to settle land demarcation with Vietnam last week after he was approved by Prime Minister Hun Sen to answer questions by the SCC.
During his official visit to Hanoi last week, Mr Hun Sen and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc presided over the Review Conference on Cambodia-Vietnam Land Boundary Demarcation, where several documents were signed, including a document to support a 1985 supplemental protocol and 2005 agreement on border demarcation, as well as a document to acknowledge the demarcations as legal documents.
Mr Hun Sen and Mr Nguyen also ratified 84 percent of the border demarcation work that is completed.
Some members of the public had criticised the deal, saying lands were lost after the agreement was signed.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting with SCC yesterday, Mr Kimhong said the government made efforts to negotiate with Vietnam, Laos and Thailand to solve disputed areas to turn border areas into zones of peace, friendship, cooperation and development.
“It does not mean our 2019 border agreement or 2005 agreement on border demarcation with Vietnam makes our nation lose the land to Vietnam.”
“Some critics said that the government does not care about the suffering of the people who lost their land [after the border was demarcated],” Mr Kimhong said. “If you have evidence, please let me know. Please don’t just blame. I cannot accept it.”
“The process of our border demarcation is not conducted superficially. We are serious about protecting our nation’s interest,” he added.
The Kingdom shares a 1,270-kilometre border with Vietnam and they have been demarcating it since 2006.
Mr Kimhong noted that the government made a great effort in solving border issues with Vietnam.
“The 84 percent of border demarcation is done with our effort to study areas along the border. We have walked through the forest and streams…we have done a great job for our nation,” he said.
Mr Kimhong said the government will continue to work out the 16 remaining percent of the border with Vietnam.
Pich Sros, SCC member and Cambodian Youth Party president, said in his statement yesterday that he accepted Mr Kimhong’s clarification.
“After listening to the technical clarification from CBAC, the delegates from CYP understood and accepted this clarification,” Mr Sros said. “We support the CBAC’s work, but we will go to the field to inspect boundary markers to verify their clarification.”
Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, yesterday said that criticism over border agreements was unavoidable.
“I agree that our country should have a strong boundary. Since the beginning, we do not have a clear border with neighbouring countries. Our border was drawn by the French.”
“The border is a sensitive issue although the government has done a good job, it cannot avoid criticism from the public,” he said.