WASHINGTON DC - Despite assurances from Prime Minister Hun Sen that no Cambodian land has been ceded to Vietnam, a France-based border expert said the government has failed to nullify treaties with its eastern neighbor that would do just that.
Sean Pengse, former Cambodian minister of industry and president of the Paris-based Cambodia Border Committee, told “Hello VOA” that at least four border treaties were made during Vietnam’s occupation of Cambodia, from 1979 to 1989, causing the loss of territory.
A supplementary agreement was made in 2005, sparking protests from many Cambodians.
With the national election approaching next year, and border questions often at the forefront of heated political debate, Hun Sen recently gave a five-hour speech to the National Assembly, broadcast live on state television, defending his government’s border policies.
During the speech, Hun Sen said Cambodia had not lost any land and said that new technology had shown it was actually 300 square kilometers larger than traditionally thought. Some Cambodian land, such as Kampuchea Krom, or Lower Cambodia, was lost following the French withdrawal from Indochina, he said, adding that Cambodia, once it submitted a map of its borders to the UN in 1964, no longer had claim to the lower Mekong Delta or islands like Koh Tral and others that now belong to Vietnam.
Meanwhile, Cambodia and Vietnam have yet to reach full agreements on border demarcation. Sean Pengse said the treaties made when Vietnam occupied Cambodia were coerced, and therefore illegal. “That’s why, by international law, they should be omitted,” he said.