Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

National Assembly ratifies border treaties with Vietnam despite concerns

The view outside National Assembly. Stringer

The National Assembly on Monday voted to ratify border treaties with neighboring Vietnam despite concerns by a minor political party over the agreements.

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 minor Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) on Oct. 9 urged the government to publicly release the recently signed border agreements, saying that it was unclear whether Cambodia or Vietnam benefits from the signings.

In a statement on Monday, the secretariat of the National Assembly said lawmakers had voted to pass five pieces of legislation, including one ratifying the two border deals.

Sok Eysan, a spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), said all 110 lawmakers present voted in favor of ratification.

Since last year’s national election, every seat in the National Assembly is held by CPP lawmakers. The party’s main rival, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), was dissolved by Supreme Court order eight months prior to the vote.

“It is a guarantee to keep the Cambodian farmers’ land along the border line, unlike the twisting of facts by some unwise individuals [claiming] a loss due to the demarcations,” Eysan said.

The content of the treaties, however, has still not been disclosed.

“The wheels of Cambodian history go forward forever and ever; nothing can obstruct them,” Eysan added.

Cambodia and Vietnam have said that the two treaties amount to 84 percent progress in demarcating the border.

In a statement on Monday, the GDP, which participated in the 2018 general election but did not win any seats, said it was “deeply disappointed” by the National Assembly vote.

“GDP demands the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Cambodia to delay the discussion and approval of the Supplementary Treaty to the 1985 Treaty on the Delimitation of the National Boundary and the 2005 Supplementary Treaty between Cambodia and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam or conduct a referendum on these Supplementary Treaties,” the party said.

The GDP reiterated that it wanted the delay because there was only one party represented in the National Assembly. Having a single-party assembly indicated that the country’s politics was in need of unification, it said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling CPP won all 125 parliamentary seats after opposition leader Kem Sokha was arrested and the CNRP dissolved in 2017.