Editorial | Articles about Cambodia | Khmer

Saturday, July 30, 2005

The Loss of Cambodia's Territorial Integrity Part 2:

The Loss of Cambodia's Territorial Integrity Part 2:
The Real Defenders of Khmer Land
By AnetKhmer

Border problems with Vietnam have made headline news again with the recent incident in Ta Poeu village, Bavet commune, Chantrea district, Svay Rieng province where a young Khmer man whose buffaloes and farm equipments were confiscated, was beaten savagely and kicked severely three times in the chest by the Vietnamese border security forces for attempting to work in his own fields and in his own country. His escape from the Vietnamese border security forces was only made possible by the courageous actions of his loving mother who, despite being alone, continued to struggle without regards to her own life to help free him from their bondage.

This is once again very sad news for Cambodia. I remember hearing Cambodian prime minister, Mr. Hun Sen declare at the top of his voice, while he was making his usual speech at his usual inauguration ceremony, that there were no encroachments on Khmer territory at all on the part of Vietnam, that he should be informed if such an encroachment existed and that Cambodia had never lost her territory to her neighbours.

Well, this recent incident is one of them and by far, I hope he has been fully informed, as there seems to be no reaction at all from him publicly, especially if the incident happens on the eastern border. This is quite surprising from a vocal and quick-tempered prime minister whose capricious arousal of patriotism led to the destruction of the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh a few years ago and the loss of more than 50 million US dollars from the foreign donors-dependent state budget. For the prime minister's personal information, there was also a recent incident on the high sea inside Cambodian water where the Vietnamese fishermen mistreated very badly the Khmer fishermen and two Khmer fishing boats were sunk. The question he should ask is what on earth the Vietnamese fishermen were doing inside Cambodian territorial water and the answer the Khmers should expect from him is what he intends to do about these maritime violations.

We should also note that Mr. Var Kim Hong, Hun Sen's minister in charge of negotiating to accept the status quo as far as Cambodia's territorial integrity is concerned, did admit that the Vietnameses violated his own illegal Jan 17, 1995 agreement signed by the two countries in Hanoi. Obviously, he must have known without any doubt that this agreement is illegal as it violates totally the 1991 Paris Peace Agreement with respect to the protection of Cambodia's territorial integrity.

Why Mr. Var Kim Hong did not seek to initiate the talk with his Vietnamese counterpart promptly at a national level and to protest in the strongest sense of the word against such abominable violation and simply delegated this immense responsibility to the local governments to handle this case is beyond me. Mr. Suos Kang, deputy chief of the Bavet commune criticized the district and provincial authorities for having failed many times to denounce the violations of the Khmer territory by the Vietnameses. This delegation of responsibility will amount to nothing being done concretely and the poor Khmer peasants who live along the Khmer-Vietnamese border will continue to suffer and will have to resort to depending upon themselves as a group to work in their fields and to protect their land.

We should also keep in mind that Mr. Var Kim Hong's illegal Jan 17, 1995 agreement has already given illegally to Vietnam a large chunk of Cambodian terrestrial and maritime territory and the Vietnameses continue to desire more and more. Is it possible that Mr Var Kim Hong and his boss, Mr. Hun Sen are afraid to upset their Vietnamese master? However, please help me, as I am totally confused as I thought that the Khmer people are supposed to be their boss and didn't both of them swear to serve and protect the Khmer people and defend their land, which, of course, are also the two gentlemen's land? If you love your job so much and do not want to give it to others who truly care for Cambodia, then why wouldn't you, Mr. Prime Minister and Mr. Minister, do this job properly? For the sake of Cambodia and your own ancestors, please wake up! It is better to go into history as a poor man with no prestige rather than as a strongman who sold his own country and people for the ill-gotten power.

It seems to me that the Royal Government of Cambodia is composed of so many officials, but only a few persons, namely Mr. Hun Sen, Mr. Sok An, who is a supernatural minister with more than a few dozen of ministerial portfolios to himself, Mr. Hor Nam Hong, Mr. Var Kim Hong and a few others of the same kind are the decision makers. What happens to the institutions such as the National Assembly and the Senate? I haven't heard any reactions from them either. Do they exist to simply rubber-stamp everything Mr. Hun Sen and his government wish to do? Where is the Member of Parliament in the constituency of Bavet/Chantrea? Doesn't he/she want to visit his/her constituents at all? I guess not as election is far away yet in the future.

I have never seen any government in this world of this century turn such a blind eye to the plight of its citizens. The villagers of Ta Poeu village themselves complained of receiving no assistance from the Cambodian authority whenever they encountered the problems with the Vietnameses; on the contrary they were scolded for defending their land and thus defending Cambodia's territorial integrity. They are indeed the true defenders of Cambodia's territorial integrity. The Cambodian security forces, police and army are too busy setting up illegal checkpoints to rob the Khmers of their daily meagre earnings, grabbing lands from various villagers in Kampong Speu and other parts of the country, protecting foreign logging company, brothels, casinos, squashing any peaceful demonstrations and engaging in all sorts of illegal activities to really have time or concern about the poor people living along the borders.

Perhaps the Royal Government of Cambodia should realize that, even though they themselves love to live on the hand-out from the international community for a long time to come, hoping that the world community's mercy on them doesn't run out, the Khmer peasants do not really want the hand-out from their government every now and then, especially around the election time; they would rather have their land so they can work on it and proudly enjoy the fruits of their labours. All they ask from their government is a simple protection and help which constitute the responsibility of a government anyway and that's why people in different communities form government. Remember the good period of the 60s when they had worked their fields happily and proudly and they were well fed and very well defended by their leader, Norodom Sihanouk. I have a saying for the Royal Government of Cambodia to ponder over: Feed me daily and I am forced to call you God, Help me learn to feed myself and I will become like you and I do want to become like you.

Some of the villagers at Ta Poeu village are even jealous of the good and guaranteed protection the Vietnameses receive from their caring authority. The Khmer peasants receive no protection for themselves or for their crops from the Khmer authority on their own land inside Cambodia. They have now decided to go farming in groups at the same time so they can help each other. How long they can last trying to fight to protect their land and their country on their own is simply a matter of time and for sure, it won't be long. The farming land they possess is their livelihood. To lose it is simply to lose their livelihood. These villagers are truly the real defenders of Cambodia's territorial integrity in the area where they live!

History has shown clearly that the Khmers will never go and take the land that belongs to Vietnam. The Khmers will not even think of going to live in Kampuchea Krom. It is always the Vietnameses who not only are born to be expansionists and aggressors, but also ambitious settlers. Mr. Hun Sen and his government must also be very happy to see so many illegal Vietnamese settlers in Cambodia as they all vote for him anyway because they know he willingly serve their interest very well. The continued influx of these illegal immigrants to the detriment of the Khmers economically, socially and politically and the on-going nibbling at the Khmer land constitute a serious danger for the always-divided and never-united children of Angkor.

We know for a fact that the Royal Government of Cambodia under Mr. Hun Sen is incapable and unwilling to restore Cambodia's territorial integrity to that between 1963 and 1969. The land area of Cambodia under Norodom Sihanouk, who successfully defended Cambodia's territorial integrity, was 181, 035 square kilometres. It was too bad for the Khmers that a genuine and dedicated leader and great defender of Cambodia's territorial integrity such as Norodom Sihanouk was overthrown in an illegal coup by those who served only their own interest at the expense of the little Khmer people.

How committed and willing the Royal Government of Cambodia is at defending the current and undeniably smaller Cambodia's territory remains to be seen; after all, the responsibility before the Khmer people, nation and history is now in the hand of Mr. Hun Sen and his Royal Government after the Supreme National Council on Border Affairs has been sidelined and marginalized drastically.

For whatever reason, the attempt made by the Royal Government of Cambodia to marginalize the great role of Norodom Sihanouk, the man who is the champion and successful defender of Cambodia's territorial integrity, in the struggle to restore Cambodia's territory to 181, 035 square kilometres is a serious and fatal mistake. This mistake will come to haunt the Khmer nation as long as it exists as a dwindling nation among others in this world.

Cambodia still can and should pursue to get back its lost land. However, there is absolutely no political will on the part of the current Royal Government to do so. In fact, this government will work very hard to obstruct instead any attempt by anyone to restore Cambodia's territorial integrity to that of Sihanouk's regime. As it stands right now, the restoration of Cambodia's territorial integrity to that of the 60s is out of the question. Even the protection of what is left is not solidly put in place. Will one day the Khmers in Cambodia become a minority in their own land? Only time will and can tell.

Email: anet....@yahoo.com

Fri, 29 Jul 2005

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