Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

GDP raises concerns over recent border signings with Vietnam

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung post for photograph during the plant Border Post at the Kampot and Kien Giang province 24 June 2012. Panha Chhorpoan

The minor Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) has urged the government to publicly release recently signed border agreements with neighboring Vietnam.

Cambodia and Vietnam signed two legal documents — the Supplementary Treaty to the 1985 Treaty on the Delimitation of the National Boundary and the 2005 Supplementary Treaty — during Prime Minister Hun Sen’s state visit to Hanoi on Oct. 5-6.

The two countries said the signings covered 84 percent of progress in demarcation and marker plantings so far, calling it a “historical milestone” for land border settlements.

In a statement on Monday, the GDP, which participated in the 2018 general election but did not win any seats, said it was unclear whether Cambodia or Vietnam benefits from these latest signings and asked the government to release their details to the public.

“The Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) is concerned about the signings of the two legal documents related to the border,” the party said in the statement.

“The GDP understands that amid a situation in which the country isn’t yet nationally unified and the parliament is under one-party rule, the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Cambodia should not ratify border agreements,” it said.

In the last general election in 2018, Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) won all 125 parliamentary seats, after police arrested opposition leader Kem Sokha and the Supreme Court banned the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) in 2017.

“GDP demands … the Royal Government of Cambodia show the two legal documents related to the border that were signed on Oct 5, 2019 to the public,” the statement said.

The party also urged the government to guarantee that landowners along the Cambodian border with Vietnam will be able to remain on their properties and go on with their lives without obstruction or intimidation.

It also urged the government not to create special economic zones along the border with Vietnam, though it did not elaborate on why.

Var Kimhong, chairman of the governmental Cambodia Borders Affairs Committee, said on Tuesday that he had read GDP’s statement and that the government would release those documents to the public in the future.

However, Kimhong took the opportunity to take a swipe at the GDP for its demand to see the documents when the party had failed to win even a single seat in the National Assembly.

“For people who don’t know the issues, they are just worried … we don’t cut away water and land,” Kimhong said. “The political party, which doesn’t have any members of parliament, please just know your duties. Let the royal government do the work.”

Pich Sros, president of Cambodian Youth Party (CYP), also said on Tuesday that he plans to invite Kimhong to provide clarifications in front of the Supreme Council of Consultations (SCC), the body Hun Sen created after his landslide victory last year for minor parties to hold biannual meetings and raise issues directly with him.