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Late King’s Adviser Says French Border Demarcation Should Be Used

Prince Sisowath Thomico, former Secretary of King Sihanouk and a senior official of the opposition CNRP party discusses the root causes and potential solutions to Cambodia’s border demarcation problem with Vietnam on VOA Khmer’s Hello VOA radio call-in show, Monday, August 31, 2015. (Lim Sothy/VOA Khmer)

Prince Sisowath Thomico, the personal secretary of late King Norodom Sihanouk, has weighed in on Cambodia’s map controversy and the alleged encroachment of Vietnamese infrastructure along the Cambodian border.

Prince Thomico told VOA Khmer that any map used to demarcate the border should match the map stipulated in the constitution, a map that was drawn up during French colonialism. “If the maps are parallel to the constitution, we accept them and it does not need to be verified with other maps,” he said.

The French had marked the border with 124 posts, he said, which should remain the borderline, if they can be found. The prince also confirmed that the late king had deposited maps with the UN, disputing allegations to the contrary.

The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party has been pushing the ruling Cambodian People’s Party to end alleged Vietnamese encroachment into border areas, raising a thorny political subject.

But Prince Thomico said all sides should sit down together in the spirit of the 1991 Paris Peace Accords to “defend our sovereignty” and find agreement on the border issue.

“We have to agree on one map and find a solution, to give justice to villagers along the border and not allow their lands or paddy fields to be lost,” he said.

Nan Sy, a former lawmaker, ambassador and member of Cambodia’s border committee, said Cambodia and Vietnam need to respect each other as neighbors, who have signed several agreements on border demarcation in the past, most recently in 2011.

“Vietnam should respect the MOU that is has signed with Cambodia,” he said. “If it crossed into the white zone, Vietnam is wrong.” Vietnam should prepare a diplomatic response to the allegations, he added.

Rather than looking to the maps first, he said, Cambodia and Vietnam should try to agree on territory. “And if each side does not agree, then we should find all the maps.”