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Prime Minister’s Son Defends Government’s Border Policy

Screenshot of Prime Minister Hun Sen's Facebook page, Wednesday December 30th, 2015.
Screenshot of Prime Minister Hun Sen's Facebook page, Wednesday December 30th, 2015.

Hun Manet, the eldest son of Prime Minister Hun Sen, has publicly defended his father’s stance on the demarcation of the Cambodian-Vietnamese border, insisting that the government would handle the issue legally and with transparency.

Manet made the defense in a video clip posted on the prime minister’s official Facebook page Wednesday, amid heightened political tensions over the border.

An investigation by the English-language Cambodia Daily newspaper, published last week, found that the Vietnamese army was in control of almost 40,000 hectares of land concessions in the border province of Ratanakkiri. The political opposition has repeatedly alleged that Vietnamese people have violated Cambodian sovereignty by digging irrigation ponds on the Cambodian side of the border.

Manet, a military general and deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, insisted in the video that his father would not make any mistakes regarding the border, which is not yet officially demarcated.

“Nobody wants to wait for a hundred years for the next generation, who will say: ‘You are the one who made us lose territory’,” Manet said. “It’s not like that. We are working on it.”

The prime minister’s son—a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point who heads Cambodia’s anti-terrorism unit—said that it was important that the issue of border demarcation should be solved as soon as possible so that it would not be a point of contention for future generations.

The options on offer to leaders, he said, were to “keep this issue for the next generation to continue arguing with each other… causing conflict every day; or we can solve the problem completely, so it won’t be a difficulty for the next generation.”

“[We] must find a solution with responsibility,” he added.

Manet went on to insist that the the government had acted transparently in placing border posts, insisting that any secrecy around the handling of the border issue was a legitimate part of the process of negotiating with a foreign government.

“We didn’t show our cards to our opponent when we negotiated over some places. After the negotiations are finished, we will reveal. When we demarcate the borders in the future, the citizens can go to see it, because we won’t hide it in a drawer,” he said.

“That is the time for transparency, and it’s impossible to hide. If something is wrong, the people will denounce it.”

Opposition spokesman Yim Sovann told VOA Khmer that the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) had received reports from people living in the area close to the border saying that they had concerns about the way the government has been conducting the demarcation process.

The CNRP has not recognized previous government map verification exercises.

“The CNRP’s stance has not been made,” Sovann said. “We haven’t confirmed whether those maps are correct or not. We will check, and do whatever it takes to push the government to let more parties get involved to check together when the border demarcation comes.”