Border Issue Big Because No Other Problems Exist, Hor Namhong Says

Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong said Sunday that the opposition CNRP has only been enjoying so much success in its recent campaign against Vietnamese incursions into Cambodia because no other problems exist in the country.

Speaking after a lecture at the Institute of Technology of Cambodia, Mr. Namhong said that he was growing tired of the recent back-and-forth between the government and CNRP on the border issue and hoped it would end soon.

“Please do not take this border issue as a drama or as a never-ending Ayai conversation,” Mr. Namhong said, referring to a popular style of Cambodian comedy in which two actors swap one-liners in a repetitive and drawn-out duet.

Mr. Namhong said the only reason the CNRP is so married to the border issue is because it is the only problem remaining in the country with which they can attack the CPP.

“As the issue of socio-economic development can be seen by all—by [our] people and foreigners—they have nothing with which to attack the government beside that [border] topic to propagandize during elections for voter support,” he said.

“In just months ahead, I hope that everyone, from any political side, will let their eyes see very clearly the effort that the government has been trying to do,” Mr. Namhong added.

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann could not be reached Sunday.

Since June, the CNRP has led a campaign to discredit the government’s border demarcation, accusing it of complicity in Vietnamese incursions into Cambodia and more recently of using incorrect maps in talks with Vietnam.

The campaign has angered Prime Minister Hun Sen, which led opposition leader Sam Rainsy to say this month that he would wind down the effort. However, speaking to Cambodians in Sydney during a tour of Australia on Saturday, Mr. Rainsy did not appear to be moving past the issue.

“Brothers and sisters, the authorities say the Yuon have not taken Khmer land, you can choose whether to believe,” he said, using a term for Vietnamese often considered derogatory.

“We, the CNRP, believe in the people who live along the border, especially the Khmer peasants there,” he said. “They will never fake or exaggerate stories, but they suffer and fall victim. They are living evidence and witnesses.”

“So as long as the people still complain about Yuon’s encroachment on their lands, we must defend our Cambodian people suffered by Yuon’s invasion,” Mr. Rainsy said.

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