Koh Tral in Cambodian sea platform

It is true the historical Cambodian ambivalence over territorial claims on Koh Tral / Phu Quok as well as the use of such claims on political and nationalistic grounds that rest authority to those claims. However, Cambodia has the right to request a technical review of its claim over the rights on its encroached sea platform.

According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea “every State has the right to establish the breadth of its territorial sea up to a limit not exceeding 12 nautical miles” (UNCLS, art. 3)

Diagram law of the seas UN

We can determine that the base line in our case is the litoral of Kampot, Kep and Sihanouk provinces. It is not difficult to demonstrate that Koh Tral Island is right in front to the Cambodian base line. It is just 10 miles from the Cambodian coast, so it is nothing more than inside the Interior waters of Cambodia.

Vietnam argues something similar on its claim over the Spratlys islands on the South Chinese Sea, even establishing that they are nearer to Vietnam than China, Taiwan and the Philippines (see this report). At the same time, it defends that the islands have been historically Vietnamese, including its French colonial time. Koh Tral is almost attached to the Cambodian base line than the Spratlys. Reviewing the history of the Spratlys, they are actually islets in the middle of a sea that has been historically the center of several sea powers such as China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Japan, the colonial powers of France, US, etc. On historical bases, all have the right to claim them in different proportions.

Koh Tral maps

The historical ambivalence of Cambodian population on Koh Tral does not give legal rights to Vietnam for the following reasons:

  • Vietnam has been an expansive power that historically comes from the north.
  • Cambodia is naturally the native of all this region, including the South of Vietnam (Kampuchea Kraom that translates “Low Cambodia”, like to say “Low California”.)
  • Cambodians, even during the ancestral Khmer Empire, never have been a sea power like Malaysia, Vietnam or China. It could be one of the reasons of its decline. This explains also an ancestral Cambodian indifference for the sea and why Cambodians did not show much interest in setting there. But this fact does not represent an objection to a legal claim.

Finally, one argument that should be reviewed as Koh Tral belonging to the Cambodian sea platform is Bokor Mountain. Everybody sees the Cambodian base line, but I never have seen this argument: Koh Tral is the sea continuation of the Bokor range. This natural phenomenon can be seen from any Kep beach.

Koh Tral and Bokor Mountain

Wait for a clear photo of this geographical evidence.

See also:

  • Jeff Mudrick (2014). Cambodia’s Impossible Dream: Koh Tral. “History doesn’t appear to support claims by the Cambodian opposition to the Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc”. The Diplomat, June 17, 2014. Link retrieved on June 18, 2014 from http://thediplomat.com/2014/06/cambodias-impossible-dream-koh-tral/
  • Bora Touch (2014). Cambodian Title to Khmer Krom Territories [and Koh Tral]. Cambodia Watch Australia, June 20, 2014. Link retrieved on June 20, 2014 from http://camwatchblogs.blogspot.com.au/2014/06/cambodian-title-to-khmer-krom.html

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About Albeiro Rodas

Albeiro Rodas (in Cambodia Sky Ly Samnang), is a MA in Digital Communication, independent journalist and a Salesian of Don Bosco from Amalfi, Colombia, based in Cambodia since 1999. He is the creator of the Don Bosco schools of journalism in Sihanoukville and Kep with young people from poor communities and the founder of the Don Bosco Kep Children Fund. Medal for Social Commitment UPB (2010); among the 100 more upstanding Colombians abroad (Marca Colombia, 2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X39xwdGtVXI) and among the 12 Colombians that are making this a better world 2013 (http://www.colombia.co/en/culture/colombians-that-are-making-this-a-better-world.html).

11 responses to “Koh Tral in Cambodian sea platform”

  1. I www says :

    It is so funny that Vietnam could move her island (koh tral) into Cambodian sea .have Vietnam paid any rent to Cambodia for mooring the island in her sea territory? It is very unfair to Cambodia.

  2. Anonymous says :

    Just for information : King Norodom sihanouk recognize vietnamese soverainty over the island after independance (as he underlined in a response to a Manille’s newspaper ‘the daily miror’ in Kambudja magasine n°39, 15th of june,1968).

  3. Anonymous says :

    Thief nation is still thief

  4. sarawan says :

    Poster citing Alexander Hamilton obviously hasn’t read Alexander Hamilton’s journal. According to that journal at the time of his visit Koh Tral was uninhabited, it didn’t belong to anyone. The Vietnamese decades later settled an island which had been abandoned by Khmers. Best to actually read your reference.

  5. anthony says :

    The land is ours,it is in our water.

  6. Hai Nguyen says :

    .Please improve the quality of your post with the correct spelling of your main themes: Phu Quoc, not Phu Quok and UNCLOS, not UNCLS.
    . Your argument is weak when you relied on flawed statements, such as Vietnam claims to be nearer to Spratly islands -they do not: the Philippines is 40 miles to the closest islet and Vietnam is 220 miles to the nearest one. Unlike Chinese claim of undocumented 2,000 years history, Vietnam has released records of the Paracel/Spratly naval fleet patrolling, mapping, developing, exploiting… these inhabitable features since 17th century and through the French colonial time. Their claim is based on historical sovereignty practices that can be verified and meet modern standards. You need to research their claim more.
    You won’t win any support by labeling Vietnam as generically, expansionist from the north, for Khmer kingdom at various times in history, was larger and occupied more territories than Vietnam ever did. Anyway, can you cite your source of Vietnamese claim of Phu Quoc because they have more Vietnamese residents than Cambodian?
    You also contradict yourself when on 1 hand claimed Phu Quoc is 10 miles from Cambodian coast, yet reasoned their very small population due to Cambodia never was a sea power nor having much interest. You don’t need to be sea power to go 10 miles. As much as 25% of fishermen from Ha Tien and Rach Gia provinces are Cambodian Vietnamese: they have interest and they fish far from shore.
    . UNCLOS’s Arbitration Court does not address sovereignty issues, only UN’s International Court of Justices does and proximity to Cambodia is not a deciding criterion per UNCLOS. You must pick the right legal approach and sue Vietnam if that how you feel.

    • AVC says :

      What truth does a Viet Hai Nguyen thief know about the history of the Khmer people and Kingdom? Viet thief Hai Nguyen wrote, “Khmer kingdom at various times in history, was larger and occupied more territories than Vietnam ever did.” The question to the Viet thief Hai Nguyen, what Khmer kingdom are you referring to? There were smaller Khmer kingdoms in that region of Southeast Asia besides Chenla or Funan. So what “Khmer kingdom” are you talking about here? Trying to disclaim the Khmerness of the Kingdom of Funan is always such a lame act of the retarded Vietnamese so-called academics (=incompetent liars/propagandists).

      Since you know so much, you don’t you read up on the online book about the early mapping of South East Asia. According to Alexander Hamilton in the 1700’s visit to Cambodia, Koh Tral was still part of Cambodian Kingdom. So that was in the 18th century. Then when in 1856 when the Khmer King wanted to create a military alliance with the French colonists, the Khmer King wanted to “yield” the island to France in exchange. Then in the 1900’s, the French and the Chinese were using the island. The Vietnamese population on the island is a recent Vietnamese government planning which got started in 2010. Jeff Mudrick wrote that the 1989 census shows 300 Khmer families calling Koh Tral home. Even in Cambodia, there are numerous Vietnamese there. You should know why already!!! If you don’t then be proud of being a territory-grabbing Vietnamese thief. Once a thief, always a thief. No morality will ever change you.

      • Anonymous says :

        Thief is still thief ! You stole it and you are trying to make a retard proof as it belongs to yours! Don’t try too hard ! It doesn’t make any sense for my eyes and ears to believe you ! Don’t even say about Koh Tral, even Cochinchine isn’t belongs to you at all! You’ll know when you pay your overall taxes and punishments for using Cochinchine area during these 60 years .

  7. sarawan says :

    My very cautious initial response is that there is precedent for excluding from the 12 mile limit that portion of the Cambodian coast which if used would result in the territorial waters taking in an island owned by another nation, as that island carries its own territorial waters entitlements. The land comes first under the Law of the Sea and the ICJ would not consider issues related to territorial sea or continental shelf without first determining sovereignty of the island based upon other considerations (Qatar. V Bahrain is relevant here*) , and here I believe Vietnam would prevail.

    *ICJ before establishing territorial waters established Qatar sovereignty over island originally occupied by Bahrain and only 3 miles from Bahrain based upon Qatar’ long term occupation.

    • AVC says :

      Lame comment. According to Alexander Hamilton, Koh Tral was part of Cambodia in the 18th century. Then in the 19th century, the Khmer King wanted to yield the island to France. Then in the 20th century, the island was used by the Chinese and later on by South Vietnamese government. Just because the Vietnamese have been occupying the island does not mean that they have sovereignty over it. Look at Cambodia, the Vietnamese occupied it as well. In the 1800’s, the Vietnamese occupied Cambodia too. Vietnamese are colonizers and thus Koh Tral will get the long awaited justice to reunite with Cambodia at the ICJ.

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