Ruling party officials say the opposition is playing a “bad trick” on Cambodians, inciting nationalistic anger with claims of Vietnamese encroachment and accusations that the government is not using the proper maps to demarcate the border.
Speaking to reporters after returning a set of maps to the UN, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said critics and the opposition should “end their campaign” over border issues.
“For doing politics, we need to be honest and moral, not politically cheating and false campaigning for political gain,” he said.
The Cambodia National Rescue Party has been pressuring the ruling Cambodian People’s Party to do more to prevent Vietnamese encroachment on the border, raising a thorny political issue. The UN maps, reviewed last week, were an attempt to prove to lawmakers that Cambodia is using the right maps in its demarcation efforts.
Rescue Party spokesman Yim Sovann said people have a right to be concerned about their territory. The opposition is not trying to trick anyone, he said. “We only want the right thing. We don’t want our territory to be lost.” The opposition wants proper border maps used for demarcation, he said.
Ou Virak, founder of the think tank Future Forum, said more verification of maps used by the government could reduce criticism, but ongoing arrests of critics and government opponents raises more doubts about the ruling party’s actions. “Unfortunately, this doubt will go on, because people doubt the government for pressuring critics.”
Rescue Party activists have in recent months been swept up in arrests, including for alleged incitement of violence in protests in July 2014, just before political negotiations began between the opposition and ruling party over the formation of a government that had been deadlocked for nearly a year.
At least some political observers say the new arrests appear to be pressure on the opposition to end its recent efforts on the border issue.