Prime Minister Hun Sen has revealed that Cambodia and Vietnam have agreed on roughly three-eighths of the remaining undemarcated borders between the two countries, in a varied speech to members of the Cambodian diaspora in Europe, in which he also discussed the upcoming commune council elections.
While greeting them on May 21 before attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Hun Sen said the border committees of Cambodia and Vietnam had recently negotiated the boundary for six of the remaining 16 per cent of undemarcated borders between the two countries.
“I have invited the Prime Minister of Vietnam to visit Cambodia and put a signature on this six per cent,” he said, referring to his recent meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart Pham Minh Chinh during the May 12-13 ASEAN-US Special Summit in Washington, DC.
Hun Sen also criticised those who accused him of “ceding” land to Vietnam. He said if that were the case, he would not have needed to negotiate, as he had with Vietnam on the six per cent of borders.
“I have no right to take Cambodian territory and give it to other people – even a millimeter of it. If it was… my own land, sure, I could give some of it to others. But it is impossible to cede land from one country to offer another country,” he said.
Cambodia needs to be friendly with other countries, especially those with whom it shares a border, he added, in a rebuttal against unnamed critics of his negotiation tactics, who he said had historically sought to “fight against Vietnam to take the land back”.
In the same speech, Hun Sen also brought up the upcoming commune elections, scheduled to take place on June 5. As political parties in Cambodia kicked off their campaigns on May 21, he noted that the first day of campaigning went smoothly, and urged the public to continue to maintain civility and refrain from violence.
“Our country has gone through too much hardship there has been enough violence. We must now use policy to compete, rather than [resort to] cursing each other, [though] I can curse too,” he said.
The premier also criticised those he claimed “like to talk about human rights but dare not talk about how to keep the peace”. He noted that since Cambodia achieved comprehensive peace in 1998, it has been able to maintain civility, with no one being killed or suffering from war-related violence or destruction.
“The absence of war has enabled us to begin the process of establishing democracy and respecting human rights,” he said.
Hun Sen also announced to the members of the Cambodian diaspora that the government will permit them to register for, and obtain, Khmer national identification cards to ease their ability to do business in Cambodia, enabling them to buy real estate “or even to form a political party”.
At the meeting, Hun Sen also revealed that he will be making a request to change his official birthday from 1951 to 1952 after the commune elections, noting that there was an over one-year difference between his stated and actual age.
The premier claimed that he chose his current birthdate of April 4, 1951 in 1970 – when he joined the armed forces of the then-prince Norodom Sihanouk to fight against foreign invaders and against the Lon Nol-led coup – due to an inability to remember his actual birth date. After joining the armed forces, his commander told 300 members to write down their birth dates. As he was not able to remember the date he was born, he put the date he joined the armed group.
"I will request the court to change my date of birth from April 4, 1951, to my real birth date of August 5, 1952," he said.