Samleng Yuveakchon Khmer (Voice of Khmer Youth)Translated from Khmer and posted online
A reliable source of information contended that Vietnam recently built a road that intruded more than 10 kilometers deep into Cambodian territory of Mondulkiri province. Cambodia’s Border Affairs Commission [CBAC] headed by Var Kim Hong that plans to soon go to the border to inspect the situation of the border markers installing process has had no reaction to this report. Moreover, the provincial authorities seemed to be trying to cover up this news, an act that has generated varied opinions because this is not the first time that Vietnam has bulldozed land and cut roads into Cambodian territory.[Opposition MP] Son Chhay said that the Vietnamese authorities frequently built roads along the border, some of them straying deep into Cambodian territory. The construction work has been going on day and night, said the MP who personally witnessed these activities of the Vietnamese authorities. Son Chhay went on to say that the road building activities that encroached into Cambodian territory were in full swing in the provinces of Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri. MP Son Chhay said that he used to seek intervention from the government, especially from Var Kim Hong’s CBAC but has received no positive responses as nothing has been done to stop these encroaching activities of the Vietnamese authorities.It is claimed that the provincial authorities, especially Deputy Provincial Governor Keo Han–who reportedly crosses back and forth between Cambodia and Vietnam two-three times a week–have been trying to cover up these road bulldozing activities in Mondulkiri province at this time. This has elicited more suspicion because the local authorities who are aware of such incident should have reported to the specialized department so that the latter would also be aware of what was taking place at the border. However, Kev Han instead has pretended not to know anything while it is reported that he has been making frequent trips to Vietnam but has feigned ignorance of what was going on.The CBAC chairman said that Cambodia had plans to install the border markers with the Vietnamese side along the borderline in the country’s northeast encompassing the provinces of Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri and this operation at points already agreed upon would be completed by the next dry season.CBAC Chairman Var Kim Hong affirmed that two teams of CBAC technical experts will be dispatched to Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri provinces in December this year.”Two teams will go to Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri. We have set goals for them to achieve. If one team encounters any problem in one place we will change its objectives.. . and let the other team take over. Besides, what we have already agreed upon we will complete it in the coming dry season,” said Var Kim Hong.In September 2007 the Cambodian and Vietnamese border commissions reached agreement with each other and succeeded in planting five border markers along the border of Ratanakiri opposite the Vietnamese province of Kontum.Li Sovannara, commander of the border defense battalion of the Ratanakiri provincial forces, confirmed: “We have managed to plant only five markers, No. 17 to 21. On our side these markers are in Andong Meas district and on the Vietnamese side they are in the adjacent province of Kantum.”The CBAC chairman, however, did not specify how many markers are remaining to be planted or when they are going to be planted between now and the next dry season. However, he affirmed that there were some disagreements that have stalled the process, especially regarding the locations of the border markers at the international border gate in O Ya Dav district, Ratanakiri province, and at Dak Dam in Mondulkiri province.Son Chhay, president of the National Assembly’s Committee No. 5 from the Sam Rainsy Party quota, also affirmed: “We observed that Vietnam was building a road along the border around the clock when we went there in January earlier this year and that this road trespassed upon Cambodia. Because of this we are very worried that the marker planting in these two provinces would be problematic because the planting was made without the participation of the National Assembly’s commission and some national media. There is suspicion that the operation might not be correctly carried out.”Cambodia started planting historic border markers with the Vietnamese side for the first time in September 2006 at the international border gate of Bavet in Svay Rieng province as part of a project to install more than 300 markers along the 1,270-kilometer borderline with Vietnam. So far, according to Son Chhay, only 20 percent of this operation has been done.