News

Cambodia Ratifies Controversial Treaty with Vietnam

The Cambodian parliament has ratified a controversial border agreement with Vietnam, following a government campaign to suppress dissent over the issue.

All 97 lawmakers present at the National Assembly Friday voted to approve the contentious accord. However, 14 opposition party lawmakers earlier walked out of the chamber, to protest the treaty and the limited time they were given to ask questions.

The three-part agreement is a supplement to a 1985 border treaty, and is seen to legitimize that earlier document.

Border expert Sean Pengse, one of the treaty's critics, says Cambodia may not have entered the 1985 agreement voluntarily, since the treaty was signed while the country was under occupation by Vietnam. He says the treaty gives away land and maritime areas that have historically belonged to Cambodia.

Vietnam occupied the country after the fall of the genocidal Khmer Rouge in 1979, and installed many of the leaders of the current government. Relations with Vietnam remain a sore point for many Cambodians.

Prime Minister Hun Sen and his deputy, Sok An, took up most of Friday morning speaking in favor of the treaty. Coalition lawmakers accused the opposition, including Sean Pengse, of opposing the treaty for their own political advantage.

Following the vote, the prime minister called the passing of the treaty a historic mission to pave the way for peaceful and friendly relations with Vietnam.

The prime minister said Cambodia will work to implement the treaty to demarcate the Cambodian-Vietnam border, and will continue negotiations on disputed land and maritime boundaries.

Mr. Hun Sen returned from signing the treaty in Hanoi last month vowing to sue anyone who accused him of giving away Cambodian land. His government promptly ordered the arrest of a popular independent journalist for broadcasting an interview critical of the treaty.

A teacher's union president was also jailed, for signing a press release blasting the government's border policy. The two men are being held on criminal defamation charges.

Four other people wanted for arrest for allegedly defaming the prime minister have fled the country. Human rights leaders and journalists, including a reporter for the Voice of America Khmer service, have also left Cambodia to avoid arrest.

Prior to Friday's vote, the prime minister launched a campaign on national television and radio in support of the treaty. He also threatened to dissolve the monarchy if King Norodom Sihamoni did not give the pact his final approval.

Speaking at the National Assembly Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An reaffirmed the government's commitment to silencing critics, saying "sensitive comments," such as calling the government traitorous, would contribute to political instability and had to be stopped.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs