Border: Lesson Learned from PM Chan Sy Khmer-Yuon Border Survey Team
In July 2007 in Phnom Penh, I had a rare opportunity to converse on border issues with one of the Khmer -Yuon Border Survey team leaders under late Comrade PM Chan Sy government. He had revealed his sadness over Cambodia maritime and land border survey back then. He said the entire episode was dominated by Yuon gains. Then the Government wasn’t strong and couldn’t have much to counter Yuon demands anyway. He was a former secondary level education professor of Mathematic and Khmer literature at Tuol Svay Prey Lycee prior to 17 April day, the Sihanouk revolution victorious day.
Under PM Chan Sy, because of his educational background and skills, he was elevated to high position in the government and charged with Khmer-Yuon border survey. Back then the western border was occupied by the resistance and yet surveyed. In this writing, he’s in his late 70 in age and has asked to be anonymous due to sensitivity and his safety.
During his two year tenure as a co-leader of border survey team, he said there was so much money to be made if his survey team would ignore the original demarcation line. Yuon would give money ($$$$$) to Khmer team in exchange if no protest made over their markers relocating deep in Khmer side . By then food provided by government was not plentiful yet but his commission could have plenty plus dollars to enjoy daily if they just let Yuon did whatever they wanted on the map survey. He bitterly said to his fellows and subordinates, please watch Yuon closely as they had never changed and had always been conniving.
On several instances, he was enraged when Yuon categorically forbade his team from surveying Koh Tral and nearby questioned zones. He argued the isle was Khmer territory as he could remember reading colonial French administrative memoirs. Then he was steamed up when Yuon barred his team from surveying Dak Dam and nearby points. He said it was his duty to see Cambodia border properly respected. But later time, he was warned by his superior from Phnom Penh over the radio call that he would receive serious consequences if he disobeyed Yuon’s wishes. That motivated his departure sooner from that job as his superior seemed to be more preoccupied with Yuon agendas.
With his honest nature and love for his native land, at old age, he forced himself to learn Yuon dialect on his own time using French -Yuon dictionary so that he would have some understanding on what Yuon team leader was up to. Meanwhile Yuon team was unaware of the old man tenacity and linguistic gift to comprehend their conversations. Pretty much throughout the entire survey time, the old man grew bitter as his team was not supported by the government as it let Yuon had say so all the times.
In that mission, Cambodia lacked the up to date survey equipments and reliable vessels. Other hand, Yuon had much superior equipments with well trained technicians to do the work with better transportation. In knowing Yuon nature, the old man told his team member not to accept any monetary gift or food from Yuon while doing the task under his supervision .
Soon PM Chan Sy fell to his secret death in Moscow hospital, the old man was reassigned by Hun Sen, the new Hanoi designated PM, to desk job in charge of procedural and administrative codes translation at the Council of Ministry until his retirement. He said he was very proud of and grateful to his colleagues who would listen to and side with to him.
However, he confirmed the eastern border demarcation was much more beneficial to Yuon than Khmer in big picture. He said, Yuon always uses the 7 January Day as a bargain point that Cambodia couldn’t have been theirs until now if they wanted it too. That hurt his conscience too much to bear. He conveys that no matter what, Khmer always tolerate own kind and can build trust among one another but we shall never be too trusting and submissive to Yuon because they see Khmer as inferior,weak and manipulatable.
Presently, the old man as guest lecturer teaches part-time at Phnom Penh Royal University-School of Administration and Public Policy.