Monday, 21 July 2008

Solution sought for buffer zone

By THE NATION
Published on July 21, 2008

The Democrat Party yesterday issued an open letter to the supreme commander urging him to negotiate not only military affairs but "bring to a conclusion" the question of sovereignty of the 4.6 square kilometres overlapping zone near Preah Vihear temple.

Supreme Commander General Bunsang Niampradit will lead a government delegation to negotiate with Cambodia over the Preah Vihear dispute today in the Joint Boundary Commission Between Thailand and Cambodia (JBC) meeting.

The move came after military tension rose with a confrontation at the Thai-Cambodia border.

Some 60 shop owners have been ordered by the army to remove their goods and leave their shops around Preah Vihear.

In the letter, the Democrats shadow justice minister Peeraphan Saleeratwipak urged Bunsang to focus on negotiations in four areas:

lWhy the barbed wire that Thailand used to demarcate the area around Preah Vihear since 1962 had been moved and when would it be put back in its original position?

lWhy only Cambodian had been allowed to live in the overlapping zone agreed by the two countries since 1962?

lThailand has protested to Cambodia four times but had been ignored each time. Instead it sent more troops and people to live in the buffer zone. Thailand regards the buffer zone as belonging to Thailand in accordance with the treaty ratified between Thailand and France in 1904 and 1907.
Thailand has the right to push back Cambodian soldiers and people from this area.

Bansang should produce results about when the Cambodians will leave this area.

lHow are Cambodian soldiers and civilians able to easily cross the border and transport supplies and weapons to the overlapping zone? Should immigration procedures be made stricter?

The letter said Cambodia has been taking advantage of the situation to seize sovereignty of the buffer zone. They had filed the petition to the United Nation to mislead the international community into thinking Thailand had violated Cambodia's rights.

This may indicate Cambodia is not sincere over the dispute and Thailand should be aware of these incidents.

Meanwhile Deputy Government spokesman Nattawut Saikua said Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej had asked the Foreign Ministry and security agencies to forge an understanding with the UN and Cambodia over the dispute.

The government called on people who are not involved to stop any action that would add fuel to the fire.

"The problem has been worsening because some groups of people have tried to incite public sentiment by misleading them that the country has lost sovereignty to Cambodia, even though this is not true. They must stop doing that,'' he said.

Meanwhile, a high-ranking Cambodian military official yesterday inspected a hotel in Sa Kaeo where the JBC meeting is to be held. There was concern the People's Alliance for Democracy may stage a protest to disrupt the meeting.

Lt General Sok Piab, chief Thailand-Cambodia border co-ordinator led a military team to inspect the Indochina Hotel in Aranyaprathet District where Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister General Tea Ban would meet with Supreme Commander General Bunsang Niempradit over the buffer zone dispute.

Meanwhile, Sa Kaeo Provincial Governor Surapol Pongtadsirikul and Burapha Task Force commander Maj General Walit Rojanapakdi and Sa Kaeo Provincial Police chief Pol Maj General Ithipol Piriyapinyo met to draw up a security plan to ensure a smooth meeting today. The team also inspected the Indochina Hotel.

Vimpelcom buys Cambodia's Sotelco for $28 mln

MOSCOW, July 21 (Reuters) - Vimpelcom, Russia's second-largest mobile phone operator, said on Monday it has agreed to buy a 90 percent stake in Cambodia's Sotelco from its largest shareholder, Altimo.

Altimo, the telecom vehicle of Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman's Alfa Group, acquired 90 percent of Sotelco in August 2007 for an undisclosed sum.

Vimpelcom said in a statement its transaction was made through the purchase of 90 percent of Sotelco's parent company, Atlas Trade Limited, for $28 million, with the remaining 10 percent staying with a local partner, a Cambodian entrepreneur.

"VimpelCom has also acquired a call option to purchase the 10 percent interest of the local partner for market value at the date of exercise of the option," it said.

Altimo owns 44 percent of Vimpelcom, while Norway's Telenor has 29.9 percent. (Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; editing by Rory Channing)

Talks begin over temple standoff

The 11th-century Hindu ruin is at the centre of a diplomatic row [EPA]

Al Jazeera
Monday, July 21, 2008

Senior Thai and Cambodian defence officials have begun talks to find a solution to the week-long standoff over disputed land near an ancient temple along their border.

Thai Supreme Commander General Boonsrang Niumpradit is due to hold talks with Tea Banh, the Cambodian defence minister, in an eastern Thai border town on Monday.

Last week, hundreds of Cambodian and Thai troops massed at the border and came close to a shootout as the confrontation escalated over the territory near the Preah Vihear temple complex.

The move for a peaceful resolution was reaffirmed by senior Thai and Cambodian diplomats at the Association of Southeast Nations (Asean) foreign ministers meeting in Singapore.

George Yeo, Singapore's foreign minister and former Asean secretary-general, said the 10-member group urged the two countries "to exercise utmost restraint and resolve this issue amicably".

"Both sides affirmed that they would ... exert their utmost efforts to find a peaceful solution to the issue," Yeo said on Sunday.

But Thailand and Cambodia have both expressed pessimism about what the talks can achieve.

Brigadier Chea Keo, commander of the Cambodian forces in the area, said on Sunday that he had little faith in the talks because Thailand insists that the land near the 11th-century temple is within its border.

"We have very little hope about the negotiations," Chea Keo said.

Cambodia maintains that Thai troops are trespassing on its territory.

Samak Sundaravej, the Thai prime minister, said in his weekly Sunday television show that the negotiations will not be easy because both sides are sticking to their original positions.

Hun Sen, the Cambodian prime minister, said in a letter to Samak dated Saturday that a previous international court ruling showed that Thailand was wrong.

The letter said the map used in the 1962 ruling by the International Court of Justice shows that the temple "is legally located approximately 700m inside Cambodian territory".

"Nonetheless, I have full confidence that our joint efforts will result in a mutually satisfactory solution to [our] current problem," Hun Sen said.

The conflict over territory surrounding the ancient Hindu temple escalated earlier this month when Unesco, the UN cultural body, approved Cambodia's application to have the complex named a World Heritage site.

Thai activists say the status undermines Thailand's claim to the compound of a nearby Buddhist pagoda.

Closed door meeting between Gen Boonsang and Gen Tea Banh finishes

By Nuntida Puangthong
The NationDeutsche
Presse Agenture

Full General Border Committee meeting starts

A closed door meeting between Thai Supreme Commander Gen Boonsang Niempradit and Cambodia's defence minister Gen Tea Banh has finished after almost four hours in a bid to solve the military standoff near Preah Vihear Temple.

Both are chairmen of ThaiCambodia General Border Committee (GBC) and started the closeddoor meeting (known as the "four-eyed meeting") at 11am at the Indochina Hotel in Sa Kaew's Aranyaprathet district.

The special GBC meeting was called to defuse the tense military situation near Preah Vihear Temple.The full GBC meeting will start after the conclusion of the foureyed meeting.

Other senior officials including Army Defence Minister Gen Anupong Paojinda and Permanent Secretary of Foreign affairs Virasakdi Futrakul also attended the meeting.

Both countries have deployed about 4,000 troops to a 4.6 square kilometre plot of land near the temple. The area claimed on the Thai side claimed is an overlapping zone which the Khmer side claims as in its soil.

The border spat coincided with the annual meeting of Asean foreign ministers meeting in Singapore this week.

Cambodia tried to use the Asean ministerial meeting as a mechanism to defuse the standoff. However Thailand rejected the effort, saying the conflict should be approached on a bilateral basis.

Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo urged Cambodia and Thailand to exercise the utmost restraint while finding a peaceful solution to the row.

"We urge both sides to exercise utmost restraint and resolve this issue amicably, in the spirit of Asean solidarity and good neighbourliness," Yeo said after an informal dinner of Asean officials on the eve of annual ministerial meeting.

Yeo said Asean can offer its facilities if Thailand and Cambodia fail to solve their dispute over Preah Vihear.

Thailand offers 'reasonable proposals' to defuse tension: Supreme Commander

SA KAEO, July 21 (TNA) - Talks between Thailand's Supreme Commander Gen. Boonsang Niempradit and Cambodian Defence Minister Gen. Tea Banh in this Thai eastern border province, aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the border conflict over the disputed ancient temple, continued into Monday afternoon with the Thai delegate expressing optimism that a solution could be found.

Gen. Boonsang, who led the Thai delegation of the Thai-Cambodian Genera Border Committee (GBC), first met with his subordinates soon after his arrival at a hotel which is the meeting site in Aranyaprathet district on the Cambodian border.

He later told journalists that "Thailand would offer reasonable proposals to the Cambodian side to consider in order to reduce tensions."

"It is expected that the Cambodian side would agree to the proposals," he said, expressing hope that his negotiations would be conducted within the good relations existing between Thailand and Cambodia.

"Also, the talks are expected to become a vital mechanism in solving the border problem at Thailand's Si Sa Ket Province and at Preah Vihear province of Cambodia," Gen. Boonsang said.

At 10:15 am, Gen. Boonsang began private talks with Gen. Tea Banh in a closed door session. Talks between the two military leaders went on for more than three hours and were continuing.

Initially, the private talks were expected to be held for only 15 minutes.

Armed plainclothes Thai soldiers and police officers provided full security at the meeting venue. An activist group, however, turned up at the hotel and submitted a letter to Gen. Boonsang through Thailand's Burapha Task Force chief.

The letter urged him to move through politics, military and negotiations means and through also an international law called the Tokyo Peace Convention of May 9, 1941 which would make a ruling by the International Court of Justice in 1962 which awarded the Preah Vihear temple to Cambodia null and void.

The temple row between the two neighbouring countries, both also members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), erupted again when the UNESCO earlier this month listed the 11th century temple the World Heritage site. Troops of both countries have been built up at the temple in recent days. (TNA)

Cambodia, China launch stamps to mark 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties

www.chinaview.cn
2008-07-21

PHNOM PENH, July 21 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia and China here Monday launched a set of twin stamps to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, which fell on July 19, 2008.

The twin stamps sell at 2,000 riels (about 0.5 U.S. dollars), with the left one featuring China's national flag and the Tian'anmen Rostrum, and the right one Cambodia's national flag and the Royal Palace.

The 200,000 sets of commemorative stamps were donated by the Chinese government to the Cambodian Ministry of Post and Telecommunications.

Minister of Post and Telecommunications So Khun and Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Zhang Jinfeng signed the transfer certificates during the launching ceremony.

So Khun said that the donation will enable his ministry to better serve domestic and global clients.

Zhang said that it will help all buyers of the stamps to have a better understanding of the long-lasting ties between the two countries.

The stamps will be on market here from Tuesday.

Editor: Du Guodong

Preah Vihear Temple and the Thai's Misunderstanding of the World Court Judgment of 15 June 1962


By Bora Touch, Esq.
(Australia - 29 June 2008)

Courtesy of The Adventure of A Cambodian Student

There are worrying signs of tension between Cambodia and Thailand over Preah Vihear temple. This could escalate into war. It is a hot issue in Thai politics and the dispute has arisen from misunderstanding of the International Court of Justice Judgment of June 1962 on the part of Thai successive governments, politicians, Thai academics with except of a few such as Dr. Charnvit Kasetsiri. The tensions have been exacerbated by incorrect and fraudulent statements made by Thai partisans.

A fraudulent statement was recently made by Thai Democrat MP Sirichok Sopha "The ICJ ruled only the temple was under Cambodia's sovereignty and Thailand obligated to hand the ruin temple to Cambodia, not soil under and surrounding the ruin": The Nation, 25 June 2008. This has been the Thai theme since July 1962. The Thai Foreign Affairs Statement of 25 March 2008 reinforces this theme.

More recently, a Thai Columnist Nophakhun Limsamarnphunnop writes "the issue of the surrounding areas, currently in Thailand's territory, would be complicated and the integrity of Preah Vihear complex would be compromised, given that a number of elements of the temple such as a giant reservoir and the Naga staircase are situated in Thai territory.": The Nation 28 June 2008.

I wish to raise two issues I hope will eradicate any misunderstanding among the Thais;
There is nothing I can do with those who persist in knowingly making false statements:

1. Did the International Court of Justice ("ICJ") accept or rule as binding all Cambodian-Thai boundary maps (1907-1908) including the Annex 1 Map and the boundary line indicated on it ?

2. What is the size of the "disputed" land?

ISSUE #1: Did the International Court of Justice ("ICJ") accept or rule as binding all Cambodian-Thai boundary maps (1907-1908) including the Annex 1 Map and the boundary line indicated on it ?

At the ICJ hearing on 20 March 1962, Cambodia asked the Court to rule on (5) Final Submissions (claims) for Cambodia:

1. "To adjudge and declare that the map of the Dangrek sector (Annex I to the Memorial of Cambodia) was drawn up and published in the name and on behalf of the Mixed Delimitation Commission set up by the Treaty of 13 February 1904, that it sets forth the decisions taken by the said Commission and that, by reason of that fact and also of the subsequent agreements and conduct of the Parties, it presents a treaty character;"

2. "To adjudge and declare that the frontier line between Cambodia and Thailand, in the disputed region in the neighborhood of the Temple of Preah Vihear, is that which is marked on the map of the Commission of Delimitation between Indo-China and Siam (Annex I to the Memorial of Cambodia);"

3. "To adjudge and declare that the Temple of Preah Vihear is situated in territory under the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Cambodia";

4. "To adjudge and declare that the Kingdom of Thailand is under an obligation to withdraw the detachments of armed forces it has stationed, since 1954, in Cambodian territory, in the ruins of the Temple of Preah Vihear";

5. "To adjudge and declare that the sculptures, stelae, fragments of monuments, sandstone model and ancient pottery which have been removed from the Temple by the Thai authorities since 1954 are to be returned to the Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia by the Government of Thailand.": ICJ Reports 1962, p. 11

In its reply at the Court hearing, (here I only repeated two of the relevant Thailand rebuttal submissions) Thailand objected to all 5 Submissions above as follows.

The Annex I Map was not published in the name or on behalf of the Mixed Commission, but was prepared by the French section of the Mixed Commission alone, and published only in the name of the French section.

No decision of the Mixed Commission was recorded about the boundary at Preah Vihear.
In the ICJ operative provisions of the judgment of 15 June 1962, the Court accepted Thai rebuttal Submissions 1 and partially 2. The Court found/ruled that:

1. "the Temple of Preah Vihear is situated in territory under the sovereignty of Cambodia;"[Cambodia's Submission 3]

2. "Thailand is under an obligation to withdraw any military or police forces, or other guards or keepers, stationed by her at the Temple, or in its vicinity on Cambodian territory"; [Cambodia's Submission 4]

3. "Thailand is under an obligation to restore to Cambodia any objects of the kind specified in Cambodia's fifth Submission which may, since the date of the occupation of the Temple by Thailand in 1954, have been removed from the Temple or the Temple area by the Thai authorities.": ICJ Reports 1962, p. 36, 37. [Cambodia's Submission 5]

Using this as a reason, following the ICJ ruling in July 1962, the Thai Cabinet dispatched a proces verbale to the United Nations in which, in essence, Thailand formally accepted the Court ruling and provided its "understanding" of the Court ruling and that is that, according to Thailand, the ICJ found that the Temple is located in Cambodian territory, but the Court rejected the Annex 1 Map and the border line indicated on it. Thailand unilaterally drew the new boundary line as it understood: (see Map "3", Courtesy Aide Memoire of the Royal Government of Cambodia 1961.)

That is an incorrect understanding of the ICJ judgment by the Thais and the facts are as follows:
In Cambodia's Submission 1 (and 2) Cambodia asked the Court to accept its very precisely wording contention/claim that Annex 1 Map was published on the authority of the Mixed Commission for Delimitation. The Court found that the Mixed Commission did not order or approve that the Maps be made. Because of the lack of necessary technical facilities, Siamese Government asked the French Government to make the boundary Maps, including the Map in question. Four French officials three of whom were members of the first Mixed Commission established under the 1904 Treaty, were appointed to prepare the Maps. The Court held that:

"What is certain is that the map must have had a basis of some sort, and the Court thinks there can be no reasonable doubt that it was based on the work of the surveying officers in the Dangrek sector. Being one of the series of maps of the frontier areas produced by French Government topographical experts in response to a request made by the Siamese authorities, printed and published by a Paris firm of repute, all of which was clear from the map itself, it was thus invested with an official standing; it had its own inherent technical authority; and its provenance was open and obvious. The Court must nevertheless conclude that, in its inception, and at the moment of its production, it had no binding character" : ICJ Report 1962, 21

But the lack of the Commission's authority to publish the Map was not important and it was not the relevant question. The Court held that:

"The real question … which is the essential one in this case, is whether the Parties did adopt the Annex I map, and the line indicated on it, as representing the outcome of the work of delimitation of the frontier in the region of Preah Vihear, thereby conferring on it a binding character.": ICJ Report 1962, 22. (emphasis added).

The Court found that this was exactly what Thailand (and Cambodia) had done; for instance, as the Court pointed out, the following facts supported that Thailand adopted the Maps:

Siam's official wide circulation of the Map,

Siam asked France for more Map copies,

the silence of the Siamese members of the Mixed Commission, who saw the map
the silence of the then governor Khukhan province (now Si Saket), who saw the Map.

The Parties thus accepted the map and the line on it. The Court held "the acceptance of the Annex I map by the parties caused the map to enter the treaty settlement [1904] and to become an integral part of it [the 1904 Treaty]" . This process, according to the Court, did not involve a departure from, or violation of, the Treaty of 1904 because even if the map line diverged from the watershed line, the Map was nonetheless accepted by the parties.

The Court held, finally that " the indication of the line of the watershed in Article 1 of the 1904 Treaty was itself no more than an obvious and convenient way of describing a frontier line objectively, though in the general terms. There is, however, no reason to think that the Parties attached any special importance to the line of the watershed as such, as compared with the overriding importance, in the interests of finality, of adhering to the map line as eventually delimited and as accepted by them. The Court, therefore, feels bound, as a matter of treaty interpretation, to pronounce in favor of the line as mapped in the disputed area": ICJ Report 1962 p. 33 (emphasis added).

Further clarity of the issue (boundary line on the Map) is seen in the Separate Declaration of 2 majority member Judges, Judge Tanaka and Judge Morelli which states "The claim as it is formulated in Cambodia's Application is directed not to the return of the Temple as such, but rather to sovereignty over the portion of territory in which the Temple is situated": ICJ Reports 1962, p 38.

It is beyond dispute. The Annex 1 Map (and the boundary line indicated on it) was ruled by the Court as valid and binding. (ICJ Annex 1 Map, attached marked "4": ICJ Reports 1962)

Both Thailand and Cambodia had accepted the Annex 1 Map and were to accept it.

Case closed!

ISSUE #2: The size of the "disputed" land

The attached Maps "A" and Map "B" shows the lines of Annex 1 Map and Thai line.

The "disputed" land where the temple is situated is more than 4.6 square kilometres larger than the Thailand has claimed:(see Thai internal working map attached "A", the blue writings are my additions)

From the cliff or the Temple's main sanctuary to the stone staircase (the main reservoir) is about 650m: (see Preah Vihear Temple Plan attached, courtesy Korat Magazine 2007).

Map marked Map "B" is an internal Thai working paper. A square on the Map, as correctly pointed by the Thai official, represents 2 square kilometres (2 tarang kilometr, red handwriting on top, right hand side of Map "B") on the Map. If you look at the square which covers temple, you will see that from the temple's stone staircase and the grand reservoir to the boundary line shows at least 2.6 km. (Note: the writings on the French map (1:200,000 scale) in blue and pink are my additions)

Thus the road (the road head) built by Thailand and the Thai Police checkpoint at the road head are therefore at least 2.6 km inside Cambodia.

Bora Touch, Esq.
Source: http://www.preah-vihear.com/

Preah Vihear temple areas are Thai territory: Minister tells ASEAN

SINGAPORE, July 21 (TNA) – Deputy Prime Minister Sahas Banditkul on Monday affirmed before the assembled foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that areas where Preah Vihear temple is situated are Thai territory.

Speaking after joining a dinner with the foreign ministers of 10-member ASEAN, Mr. Sahas, who is acting on behalf of the Thai government at the ASEAN Foreign Ministerial meeting being held here July 21-24, said the Cambodian minister raised the disputed Preah Vihear temple issue for discussion.

He told the ministers of Phnom Penh's move to keep the United Nations informed of the dispute only, but said Cambodia had never wanted to put the issue as an agenda item for the UN Security Council.

Mr. Sahas said he had clarified the issue and affirmed before the foreign ministers that the temple areas are Thai territory.

"Once Cambodia raises the issue for discussion, we explain it. The point is not whether the areas will finally belong to Thailand or Cambodia. But we affirm the areas are our territory,'' he said.

Of late, Mr. Sahas said, the Singaporean foreign minister, who is acting as ASEAN chairman, issued a statement that all members shared a common view that the Preah Vihear temple dispute is an internal affair which both Thailand and Cambodia may have some discrepancy in coming to a proper understanding.

So, they want the neighbouring countries to hold their own talks on the issue first.

Should the negotiations fail, ASEAN is ready to play a role in facilitating efforts to solve the problem, he quoted the Singapore minister as saying. (TNA)

News #8 - Preah Vihear - 21.07.2008

Cambodia-Thai temple dispute talks start and situation remain calm 21/07/2008

Sunrise looks over Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple near the Cambodian-Thai border in Preah Vihear, Cambodia Monday, July 21, 2008. The two nations will begin talks Monday aimed at resolving a lingering dispute over territory near the World Heritage Site temple, where more than 4,000 troops from the two sides have been deployed.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh arrives at the Thai border town of Aranyaprathet, 250 km (155 miles) east of Bangkok, July 21 2008. Thailand and Cambodia began high-level talks on Monday aimed at resolving a military stand-off over the disputed Preah Vihear temple on their joint border.REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang (THAILAND)

Thai Supreme Commander Boonsrang Niumpradit (R) walks with Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh at the Thai border town of Aranyaprathet, 250 km (155 miles) east of Bangkok, July 21, 2008. Thailand and Cambodia began high-level talks on Monday aimed at resolving a military stand-off over the disputed Preah Vihear temple on their joint border.REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang (THAILAND)

Thai Supreme Commander Boonsrang Niumpradit (R) greets Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh at the Thai border town of Aranyaprathet, 250 km (155 miles) east of Bangkok, July 21 2008. Thailand and Cambodia began high-level talks on Monday aimed at resolving a military stand-off over the disputed Preah Vihear temple on their joint border.REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang (THAILAND)

A Cambodian soldier carries weapon as he walks outside a Buddhist temple where Thai soldiers occupied, near the Cambodian-Thai border in Preah Vihear, Cambodia, Monday, July 21, 2008. The two nations plan to talk Monday aimed at resolving a dispute over territory near a World Heritage Site temple, where more than 4,000 troops from the two sides have been deployed.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
Cambodian soldiers stand at Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Sunday, July 20, 2008. Cambodia complained to the U.N. Security Council that Thai forces have violated its territory near a World Heritage Site temple, as more than 4,000 troops from the two sides were deployed in the border region Sunday.(AP Photo/Str)

A Cambodian soldier sits at the Cekakiri Svarak pagoda in the Preah Vihear temple compound, 245km (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh, July 21, 2008. Cambodia has complained to the U.N. Security Council about its military standoff with Thailand over the ancient temple on their disputed border.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Cambodian Buddhist monks take a photo with an old gun at Preah Vihear temple, 245 km (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh, July 21, 2008. Cambodia has complained to the U.N. Security Council about its military standoff with Thailand over an ancient temple on their disputed border.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Cambodian military police officers make their way on a patrol at Preah Vihear temple near the Cambodian-Thai border in Preah Vihear, Cambodia, Monday July 21, 2008. Cambodia and neighboring Thailand will begin talks Monday aimed at resolving a lingering dispute over territory near a World Heritage Site temple, where more than 4,000 troops from the two sides have been deployed.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian military police patrol Preah Vihear temple, 245 km (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh, July 21, 2008. Cambodia has complained to the U.N. Security Council about its military standoff with Thailand over an ancient temple on their disputed border.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

A Cambodian Buddhist monk stands next to Thai soldiers at a pagoda close to Preah Vihear temple. Senior defence officials from Thailand and Cambodia will meet Monday to try and resolve a week-long military standoff on their border, but pessimism has clouded the talks.(AFP/Tang Chhin Sothy)

Sunrise looks over Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple near the Cambodian-Thai border in Preah Vihear, Cambodia Monday, July 21, 2008. The two nations will begin talks Monday aimed at resolving a lingering dispute over territory near a World Heritage Site temple, where more than 4,000 troops from the two sides have been deployed.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian riot police stand guard at the Preah Vihear temple near Thai border. Senior defence officials from Thailand and Cambodia will meet Monday to try and resolve a week-long military standoff on their border, but pessimism has clouded the talks.(AFP/Tang Chhin Sothy)

Sacravatoons :" Siam,Greed,Power and Buddhism "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon at http://sacrava.blogspot.com/

A Poem by Ong Att : " Preah Keo-Borei "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon at http://sacrava.blogspot.com/

Sacravatoons :" When 2 Siamese-Cats are fighting "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon at http://sacrava.blogspot.com/

Hindu temple Thai, Cambodia tense military stand-off continues

Thaindian.com
July 21st, 2008

Kantharalak (Thailand), July 21 (ANI): Hundreds of Thai and Cambodian soldiers remained locked in a tense standoff at the ruins of an ancient Hindu temple here for a sixth straight day on Sunday, in a modern-day echo of the age-old clash of empires across Indochina.

The contentious 4.6-square-kilometre zone is in Si Sa Ket province, to the west of the ancient temple that Cambodia has successfully listed as a World Heritage site.

The centre of the dispute is the makeshift Wat Viharn temple that Cambodia built in the disputed area in 2001, despite opposition from Thailand.

Soldiers from both sides remain there on condition that all of them must be unarmed, the New York Times reported.

Outside the self-proclaimed “temple” but inside the 4.6-sq-km area, about 1,000-armed Thai and Cambodian soldiers have set up their camps.

Beyond the disputed area, into both nations” soil, some 4,000 more soldiers of both sides remain on standby with heavy artillery.

Tense moments have been reported when weapons were aimed within the temple complex. The prime ministers of both nations have exchanged stern notes, hardening their positions.

The Cambodian government has taken its complaint to the United Nations, saying that Thai troops have intruded onto its territory. The Thai Prime Minister, Samak Sundaravej, insists that the area is Thai.

Neither government wants a war, and there were plans for the countries” defence ministers to hold talks on Monday.

The conflict comes at a delicate time for both countries. Thailand has its slow-burning political crisis, and nationalism is looming as a factor in Cambodia’’s general election next Sunday as well.

But in Bangkok, political damage has already been done: the resignation of a cabinet minister, a censure debate in Parliament and accusations of national betrayal have further weakened a shaky, ineffective government. (ANI)

Government appears ready to go for broke

The Bangkok Post
Monday July 21, 2008

VEERA PRATEEPCHAIKUL

After a series of legal setbacks delivered by the judiciary and with a few more crushing rulings expected in the near future, Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej is fighting back with the tenacity of a cornered animal.

The besieged premier told an audience at a trade fair on Thursday that he would never bow to pressure on him to quit. A few days earlier in his Sunday television talk show, he ranted at the judiciary for overstepping its authority and vowed to rectify the situation by amending the constitution.

He also promised vengeance against government opponents. "From now on, my men will also go for the kill. We have already suffered many casualties," he was quoted as saying.
Thus began the game of tit for tat.

Hundreds of People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) demonstrators, on their way to the 11th-century Hindu temple of Preah Vihear in a convoy of buses and cars, were blocked by about 200 pro-government locals in Si Sa Ket's Kantharalak district on Thursday. The confrontation developed into scuffles which resulted in injuries to some warriors on both sides.

PAD protesters managed to break through the blockade and reach the temple's entrance where they held a brief protest against Cambodia's listing of the temple as a World Heritage site.

Although there were no serious injuries, the incident should serve as a warning that future confrontations between the opposing sides - in other words, the pro- and anti-Thaksin forces - will likely turn violent.

Frankly, both sides are to blame for provoking violence. The PAD protesters may claim they have the right to protest against Cambodia. But was it necessary to go all the way to the temple entrance to make their statement, unnecessarily heightening the already strained relations between Thailand and Cambodia? PAD has always pointed fingers at the government, accusing it of being the main culprit for the diplomatic debacle over the temple issue.

On the other hand, the Si Sa Ket locals were equally provocative, some armed with wooden clubs and steel pipes as they blocked PAD protesters.

PAD has specifically targeted protests against Interior Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, to the extent that he is unable to undertake inspection trips to the countryside, particularly in the southern provinces.

PAD's conduct in this regard has come under heavy criticism, seen by many critics as being beyond legitimate free expression.

It was reliably reported that PAD protesters would meet counter-protests by rivals at many venues in the escalating tit-for-tat strategy recently adopted by the People Power party.

The recently revived pro-Thaksin television station, known as PTV, was due to hold a rally over the weekend in Bangkok to campaign in support of the government's bid to rewrite the charter.

Meanwhile, in parliament, the ongoing attempts by a pro-Thaksin senator to ask the Election Commission to disqualify dozens of Democrat MPs and anti-Thaksin senators for holding shares in companies, with concession rights from the government, in violation of the constitution was also viewed in a broader context as part and parcel of Mr Samak's war cry against the opponents of his government.

But the battle royale will be over the current constitution. Mr Samak, who earlier backed off on the bid to rewrite the charter, appears determined to go for broke this time around.

Contrary to his earlier statement that rewriting the charter is the responsibility of parliament, he recently declared that amending the constitution would be the first item to be deliberated in the House when it reconvenes.

The government may feel emboldened that it will have more public support this time, thanks to its economic assistance package recently announced.

On the other hand, the PAD is likely to go for broke as well, because it cannot afford to have the government succeed in amending the charter.

Both sides are on a collision course, and you can guess what the consequences will be. Unless, of course, there is an intervention by an "invisible hand".

Veera Prateepchaikul is Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Post Publishing Co Ltd.

Go on PR offensive, govt urged




Photos of the Preah Vihear site and drawings of the sanctuary which appear in Cambodia's nomination document for the listing of the ancient temple as the World Heritage site.
The Bangkok Post
Monday July 21, 2008

Temple management committee could result in Thailand losing sovereignty over heritage site

MR Pridiyathorn

The government should mobilise state agencies to deal with the Preah Vihear issue, and appoint a national committee to steer the effort, MR Pridiyathorn Devakula suggests in an open letter to Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej.

The national committee, chaired by a deputy prime minister, needs to coordinate efforts from state agencies in explaining to the world community loopholes in the process leading to the decision by the World Heritage Committee to list Preah Vihear temple, he says in the letter.

The listing was based on debatable information on the temple's history.

The Cambodian government had distorted the fact that significant parts of the Preah Vihear temple site were in Thai territory, said MR Pridiyathorn, a former Bank of Thailand governor, and ex-finance minister.

A diplomatic campaign should be launched to tell the world community that Thailand was willing to cooperate with the Preah Vihear listing, but the listing must be properly carried out and meet all the criteria for World Heritage sites.

To carry out such a diplomatic campaign, agencies should work in the same direction and with the same strategy.

A national committee must be set up to direct agencies' efforts. Internationally recognised experts including historians, archaeologists and civil servants well-versed in the issue should be invited to work with the committee, he said.

The deputy prime minister appointed to chair the committee should be independent from political groups as the public could ask questions if the chairman has any conflict of interest on the issue.

"Mr Prime Minister, I write this letter to point out information that some might have overlooked.

"Many have tried to point a finger at those causing Thailand to make mistakes on this issue. But I'm afraid we might forget our real opponents abroad. They are also threatening opponents, who are not easy to deal with.

"So I've tried to find a way to deal with them and propose it for your consideration. I hope you won't overlook this important national issue."

The fact that the WHC had now listed Preah Vihear as a World Heritage site should not be a problem for Thailand as Cambodia's latest map of the temple proposed to the WHC did not include area in the disputed territory.

The listing, which Thailand opposed, had not affected this country's territory.

The government should, however, be wary of Item 14 in the WHC's Preah Vihear listing ruling. It says the WHC "requests the State Party of Cambodia, in collaboration with Unesco [the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation], convene an international coordinating committee for the safeguarding and development of the property no later than February 2009, inviting the participation of the Government of Thailand and not more than seven other appropriate international partners, to examine general policy matters relating to the safeguarding of the outstanding universal value of the property in conformity with international conservation standards".

The statement seemed harmless. However, the phrase "the safeguarding of the outstanding universal value of the property in conformity with international conservation standards" had wide ramifications.

It gave an international committee, comprising representatives from Cambodia, Thailand and seven other nations authority to manage the surrounding area of the ancient Preah Vihear temple, including adjacent architecture on Thai soil.

The international conservation standard required all parts of a World Heritage site and its surroundings to be conserved and restored to fit its heritage status.

The letter quotes former chairman of the National Committee for Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, Adul Wichiencharoen, as saying Item 14 of the WHC's ruling created an opportunity for the international committee to supervise conservation areas at the ancient temple.

The statement in Item 14 was unprecedented as the WHC had not before opted to use an international panel in the protection or the creation of a conserved or development area of a World Heritage site, Mr Adul was quoted as saying.

The fact that the WHC allowed Cambodia to invite representatives from seven other nations to join the committee was a way to silence representatives from Thailand when any disagreement arose.

Whenever the Thai government disagreed with any idea proposed to the committee, Cambodia's partners from the seven countries could simply unite to oppose its stance.

Thailand would then have no chance to do anything on its own territory due to pressure from the majority on the international committee. It would be equivalent to losing the country's sovereignty over the disputed area, said Mr Adul.

He suggested the conserved and development area should be managed by a joint panel between Thailand and Cambodia only.

Archaeologist and anthropologist Srisakra Vallibhotama had suggested the government not cooperate with the WHC's plan to appoint the international committee to supervise Preah Vihear temple's protection, according to the letter.

Mr Srisakra said the government's participation on the committee would be tantamount to the country's acknowledgement of the temple's listing and eventually the country could lose 4.6 square kilometres of overlapping territory.

However, the government could not do what Mr Srisakra suggested, MR Pridiyathorn wrote, because Thailand has ratified the Unesco Convention concerning the protection of world cultural and natural heritage. The government was obliged to cooperate in the process to manage and protect heritage sites listed by the WHC.

If Thailand did not cooperate, Thailand might have to end its membership in Unesco's World Cultural and Natural Heritage programme.

If Thailand decided not to join the international committee for the management of Preah Vihear temple and failed to properly explain its decision to other countries, those who did not know the issue might think Thailand irrationally refused to cooperate because it could not co-host the listing of Preah Vihear temple.

Such a misunderstanding could damage the country's image in the world community.

The national committee was needed to make sure the world community understands Thailand's stance on Preah Vihear and the history of Preah Vihear temple correctly, he said.

Cambodian monks debate right to vote in election next week

Buddhist monks clash with riot police in December 2007 during a protest in Phnom Penh

Cambodians offer food to Buddhist monks in Phnom Penh

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — The austere existence of Buddhist monks is supposed to show Cambodians how to live. One thing monks have been forbidden to do, however, is show them how to vote.

That will change Sunday, when Cambodia's Buddhist monks vote in their first general election since they led anti-government demonstrations a decade ago, when they were beaten and shot in the streets for protesting against Prime Minister Hun Sen's victory.

After the demonstrations, which left at least two monks dead, Supreme Patriarch Tep Vong, head of the country's largest Buddhist sect, barred Cambodia's 54,000 Buddhist clergy from voting.

Monks were still constitutionally allowed to vote, but many who tried were blocked by local officials or threatened with expulsion from their pagodas.

Tep Vong retracted his order last year. When asked why, he said, "it is important for democracy" for monks to vote.

Hun Sen and his Cambodian People's Party (CPP) are widely expected to score another victory in the July 27 poll, extending his 23-year grip on power.

But now that monks are again free to help choose the leader, not everyone agrees on the political role of Cambodia's revered saffron-robed men.

"I think monks don't need to vote because monks are neutral people. If they vote, it can bring biases that can cause fighting," said Lai Heang, a 28-year-old monk at Phnom Penh Botum pagoda.

When Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge swept to power in 1975 it tried to crush Buddhism, one of the greatest threats to the new order of the ultra-Maoist movement.

Tens of thousands of monks were murdered, and most Buddhist texts and temples were destroyed as the regime killed up to two million people in its attempt to create an agrarian utopia.

After Vietnamese-led forces swept out the Khmer Rouge in 1979, the new government appointed Tep Vong to revive the national religion.

Pagodas have once again become centres of learning and culture, and in a country where Buddhism permeates all aspects of culture, upholding the faith is seen as vital for political success.

Politicians across the country donate money, help rebuild a temple or simply spend time in a monastery to demonstrate their access to the sacred power of Buddhism.

"Pol Pot dissolved Buddhism and now he's dissolved himself. Bin Laden and the Taliban regime destroyed the Buddhist statues. Now they are being destroyed," Hun Sen said in a speech at Tep Vong's 70th birthday party.

These days, while images of monks demonstrating in Tibet and Myanmar have recently captured the world's attention, pagodas are no longer hotbeds of political activism in Cambodia.

Still, some young monks believe all supreme monks in the country have a political bias, including a 29-year-old monk at Phnom Penh's Ounalom Pagoda.

"A group of officials came into my pagoda and gave me a piece of paper quite similar to a ballot. They taught me to tick the (ruling) political party," he said.

"I find this quite funny and unacceptable because it is obviously an indirect intimidation to me and other monks in this pagoda," he added.

Tep Vong does not hide his allegiance to the ruling CPP.

"I think you know the opposition never does good action," he said before the 2003 election. "If someone tries to oppose the royal government, they use Pol Pot's ideas."

Venerable Yos Hut Khemacaro of the Khmer Buddhist Foundation is careful not to directly criticise Tep Vong, but said it was vital for monks to work impartially.

"I think many politicians in Cambodia and elsewhere want monks' support and blessing, but not their teachings," he said. "Politicians respect us with gestures, but we must teach them all the time."

Supreme Commander Gen Boonsang meets four-eyed with Khmer defence

Thailand's Supreme Commander Gen. Boonsrang Niampradit, right, leads Cambodia's Deputy Premier and Defence Minister Gen. Tea Banh, left, shortly after the latter one arrives for a meeting in the Thai-Cambodian border town of Aranyaprathet, Thailand, Monday, July 21, 2008. Thailand and Cambodia agreed to hold talks to avoid military action after they have massed troops on their disputed border region surrounding an 11th century temple.(AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)


By Nuntida Puangthong
The Nation
Deutsche Presse Agenture

Supreme Commander Gen Boonsang Niempradit and Cambodia's Defence Minister Gen Tea Banh talk in Sa Kaew in a four-eyed meeting to defuse military tension near Preah Vihear Temple.

The meeting which started at about 10.15am still continued at 11am. It will be followed by full GBC committee meeting.

Other officials including Army Defence Minister Gen Anupong Paojinda and Permanent Secretary to foreign affairs are waiting at a meeting room at Indochina Hotel.

The special session of the Thai-Cambodia General Border Committee was conducted to resolve the military stand off near Preah Vihear temple.

Both countries have deployed troops to an area which the Thai side claimed was overlapping zones while the Khmer side claimed as in its soil.

Cambodia tried to use Asean meeting which is conducting ministerial meeting in Singapore as a mechanism to defuse the stand off. However Thailand rejected the effort, saying the conflict should be conducted on bilateral basis.

The Sa Kaew meeting is meant to defuse an intensifying dispute over the ownership of a 4.6-square-kilometre plot of land adjoining Preah Vihear.

Last week Thailand and Cambodia sent about 4,000 troops to the vicinity of Preah Vihear temple, also called Phra Viharn in Thai.

The International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled ownership of the temple to Cambodia in 1962. The row was reignited by the World Heritage Committee's decision to list the temple as a UNESCO site earlier this month despite Thai objections.

Three Thais were briefly detained on July 15 for crossing into a portion of the temple compound that is still subject to a border demarcation dispute. The three were released within hours but prompted Thailand to send paramilitary troops to the contested area, where they remained.

The border spat also coincided with the annual foreign ministers meeting of the Asean Singapore this week.

Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo urged Cambodia and Thailand to exercise utmost restraint while finding peaceful solutions to the row.

"We urge both sides to exercise utmost restraint and resolve this issue amicably, in the spirit of Asean solidarity and good neighbourliness," Yeo said after an informal dinner of Asean officials on the eve of annual ministerial meetings.

Pessimism as Cambodia-Thai border talks begin

A Cambodian soldier carries a shoulder-launched grenade launcher while guarding a road which leads to the ruins of Preah Vihear temple near the Thai-Cambodia border . Senior defence officials from Thailand and Cambodia will meet Monday to try and resolve a week-long military standoff on their border, but pessimism has clouded the talks.(AFP/Tang Chhin Sothy)


PREAH VIHEAR, Cambodia (AFP) - Senior defence officials from Thailand and Cambodia will meet Monday to try and resolve a week-long military standoff on their border, but pessimism has clouded the talks.

As more than 500 Thai and 1,000 Cambodian troops face off in a patch of disputed land near an ancient temple , Thai Supreme Commander General Boonsrang Niumpradit will sit down in an eastern Thai border town with Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh to try and hammer out a resolution.

Both countries have expressed willingness to peacefully diffuse the territorial dispute in which weapons were briefly drawn last week, but there appears to be little room for diplomatic manoeuvring.

Brigadier Chea Keo, commander of the Cambodian forces in the disputed area, said Sunday he had little faith in the talks because Thailand insisted that the land near the 11th century Preah Vihear temple was inside their country.

Cambodia maintains that Thai troops are trespassing on their territory.

"We have very little hope about the negotiations," Chea Keo said.

Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, meanwhile, said on his weekly Sunday television show that negotiations would not be easy since both countries were sticking to their original positions.

The World Court ruled in 1962 that Preah Vihear belongs to Cambodia. But the most accessible entrance to the Khmer ruins lies in Thailand, and 4.6 square kilometres (1.8 square miles) of the surrounding land remains in dispute.

Cambodian government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said they had sent a letter to the United Nations to try and draw attention to what they say is an illegal Thai incursion, but insisted they were committed to Monday's talks.

"We will try to do our best to resolve the situation peacefully and bilaterally," he told AFP.
Recent tensions between the neighbours began with Cambodia's moves to have Preah Vihear -- which the World Court in 1962 said belonged to Cambodia -- listed as a United Nations World Heritage Site.

UN cultural body UNESCO earlier this month finally granted heritage status to the Hindu temple perched on a mountaintop, sparking an outcry from nationalist groups in Thailand who are battling Samak's government.

Thailand historically laid claim to the temple itself, but the dispute is now focused on the surrounding land.

The situation boiled over after three Thai protesters were arrested on Tuesday for jumping a fence to reach the temple. Troops headed to the border, and on Thursday witnesses said they had pointed their guns at each other.

Both sides have set up around a small Buddhist pagoda on the slope of a mountain leading to the ruins of Preah Vihear.

The standoff is of great national importance to both countries.

Cambodia is preparing for general elections on July 27, and Prime Minister Hun Sen has portrayed the UN recognition of the ruins as a national triumph, organising huge public celebrations.

Thailand remains in the grip of anti-government protests, with its cabinet threatened by impeachment proceedings.

The territorial dispute has long dogged relations between the two countries, which were last strained in 2003 when rioters burned and looted Thailand's embassy and several Thai-owned businesses in Phnom Penh after a row over Cambodia's Angkor Wat temple.

Thai-Cambodia border meeting starts

www.chinaview.cn
2008-07-21

·A special meeting of Thai-Cambodia General Border Committee (GBC) started Monday.
·Both sides agreed to suspend military movements that may cause further tension.
·The military standoff between Cambodia and Thailand entered into its 7th day Monday.

BANGKOK, July 21 (Xinhua) -- A special meeting of Thai-Cambodia General Border Committee (GBC) to defuse conflicts over disputed border area of Preah Vihear Temple started in Thailand's Sa Kaew Province on Monday.

Thai side is represented by Supreme Commander Gen. Boonsang Niempradit while the Cambodian side by Defense Minister Gen. Tea Banh.

Earlier, Weewalit Jornsamrit, Second Army Area Deputy Commander of Thailand, said that both sides agreed to suspend military movements that may cause further tension, but the military officials would remain stationed at strategic points pending the result of the GBC meeting.

On Monday, Boonsang declined to give comments to reporters prior to his departure for the talks.

Despite commitment to a peaceful resolution of the standoff, Thailand now has some 1,500 military personnel and border patrol police officers, reinforcing security on roads in Soi Dao and PongNam Ron districts, bordering Cambodia, the state-run Thai News Agency reported.


Police checkpoints were also set up to conduct search on vehicles passing through the area, while more troops were in place at border passes around the clock.

Boonsang was assigned by Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej to lead the Thai delegation to Monday's GBC meeting.

Boonsang said earlier he could not say whether the Thai troops stationed near Preah Vihear will be withdrawn as requested by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen last week in a diplomatic note sent to his Thai counterpart.

"It is better to wait for the outcome of the meeting first," Boonsang said, noting that "the Thai military will not employ violence to solve this problem."

Instead, the military would use peaceful means in solving the border crisis, he said.

The military standoff between Cambodia and Thailand entered into its seventh day on Monday. Both countries historically laid claim to the 11th century temple, which now sits on Cambodian soil following the action of the International Court of Justice which awarded the ancient temple to Cambodia in 1962.

However, the temple can practicably only be accessed from Thailand. The exact demarcation of the border around the ruins remains in contention.

The security situation around the temple deteriorated after three Thais, including a Buddhist monk, were briefly detained by Cambodian soldiers after surreptitiously crossing into the disputed border area on Tuesday. The trio were released the same day but refused to leave the 4.6 square kilometers disputed area adjoining the temple complex.

Thailand first issued a warning that travel to the vicinity of the temple be avoided, but later closed off access altogether within 10 km of the temple.

Thailand, Cambodia holds talks on temple row

Cambodian military police patrol Preah Vihear temple, 245 km north of Phnom Penh, July 21, 2008. (REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea)

Monday July 21, 2008

By Nopporn Wong-Anan

ARANYAPRATHET, Thailand (Reuters) - Thailand and Cambodia began high-level talks on Monday aimed at resolving a military stand-off over the disputed Preah Vihear temple on their joint border.

After a week of diplomatic sparring and a build-up of troops, expectations for a breakthrough were low, but both sides said they wanted to ease tensions in a dispute that has regional neighbours worried it could turn violent.

"We believe they will agree to our reasonable offer which will help ease the tension along the border," Thai Supreme Commander Boonsrang Niumpradit told reporters before meeting Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh.

"We hope they will have a similar offer that we can accept," Boonsrang said, without giving details of the Thai proposal.

The two met in the Thai border town of Aranyaprathet, about 350 km (215 miles) from the 11th century temple that has been a source of tension for decades after it was bestowed by an international court to Cambodia in 1962.

Hundreds of Thai and Cambodian troops have faced each other at the temple since last Tuesday, backed up by several thousand more troops and heavy artillery on both sides.

In Phnom Penh, government spokesman Khieu Kanharith did not expect a swift end to the stand-off, but "at least it will ease some of the tension because both sides have agreed to sit down at the negotiating table."

At the heart of the dispute is a 4.6 sq km (1.8 sq mile) area around the temple, which sits on a jungle-clad escarpment that forms a natural boundary, that is claimed by both nations.

Cambodia complained to the U.N. Security Council on Friday about Thailand's violation of Cambodia's "sovereignty and territorial integrity", but did not ask the U.N. to intervene.

"While Cambodia exercises maximum restraint to avoid armed confrontation, we cannot ignore that Thai military provocation is to create a de facto 'overlapping area' that legally does not exist on Cambodia soil," Phnom Penh's U.N. ambassador Sea Kosal said.

ASEAN URGES RESTRAINT

Thai troops moved into the disputed area last Tuesday after three Thai protesters were detained by Cambodian soldiers as they tried to plant a Thai flag on the temple.

The dispute has revived memories of a 2003 spat over Cambodia's world famous Angkor Wat temple, which saw a nationalist mob setting fire to the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh, and worried neighbours.

The 10-nation Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) urged its fellow members Thailand and Cambodia to show "utmost caution and restraint" and offered to help resolve the impasse.

"They are hoping that the two sides will find amicable resolution to the situation," Surin Pitsuan, ASEAN Secretary-General, told reporters at the start of the annual ASEAN ministerial meeting in Singapore.

Analysts say domestic politics in Thailand, where the temple is known as Khao Pra Viharn, have played a key role in fuelling the border dispute.

Preah Vihear's listing as a World Heritage site this month triggered a political uproar in Bangkok, where the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) accused the government of selling out Thailand's history by initially backing the listing.

The PAD, a coalition of activists and royalists, is waging a street campaign against Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, whom they accuse of being a proxy of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted in a coup in 2006.

"The PAD will use any tool, any instrument to bring down the Samak government. Khao Pra Viharn is a casualty of Thailand's domestic political crisis," Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a foreign affairs lecturer at Chulalongkorn University, told Reuters.

(Additional reporting by Ek Madra in PHNOM PENH)

An International Crisis – But Why Are Important Public Documents Not Considered?

Posted on 21 July 2008
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 569

In the interest of easier accessability, we publich the editorial o fthe past week also here.

While military forces and military hardware continued to be deployed in the general area of the Preah Vihear temple – the temple itself has been declared to be a World Heritage Site - emotions continue to grow, mixed with some fear, that the present confrontation might result again in violence, as it happened in 2003, when a baseless rumor led to the destruction and looting of the Thai embassy and other Thai property in Phnom Penh. The official estimate of the damage of goods destroyed was US$56 million – the value of goodwill destroyed can never be counted in monetary value.

Now the hope is toward the high level meeting between representatives of the Cambodian and the Thai governments to happen on Monday.

But it is a surprising environment in which the emotional discussion in Cambodia happens, even when it relates to the legal background and context of the present standoff. Until now, we did not see any reference to the recent declarations and decision by the representatives of the Royal Government of Cambodia which led to the successful listing of the Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site – eminently important documents, which are all publicly available on the Internet.

But these documents are strangely absent from the media in Cambodia. If they are available and we only missed it, we apologize and would like to get the guidance of our readers, pointing us to publicly available sources in Khmer, or in any other language – but material of the media printed in Cambodia.

We quote some of these important declarations, including the sources, where they are publicly accessible.

Item 1

KINGDOM OF CAMBODIATHE TEMPLE OF PREAH VIHEARProposed for the inscription on the World Heritage List (UNESCO)

Edited by the Council of MinistersPhnom PenhJUNE 2008

http://www.pressocm.gov.kh/publishing/Preah_Vihear_English.pdf(English, 4.24 MB)

Page 12 (about principles of these related UNESCO decisions):

“The inclusion of a property situated in a territory, sovereignty or jurisdiction over which isclaimed by more than one State, shall in no way prejudice the rights of the parties to the dispute.”

= =

Page 29 (from 6 May 2008): Joint Press Release

(at the occasion of a meeting between Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kingdom of Thailand)

The Kingdom of Cambodia strongly stresses that the inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear is without prejudice to the demarcation work of the Cambodian-Thai Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary (JBC) between Cambodia and Thailand; and the zoning (“Zonage” in French) stipulated in the document submitted by Cambodia to UNESCO shall not be considered as boundary line.

= =

Page 23 (related to 22 May 2008):

…during a meeting in Paris (France) on 22 May 2008 between a Cambodian delegation… and a Thai Delegation … The Kingdom of Thailand reconfirmed its support for the inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List… For its part, the Kingdom of Cambodia, in a spirit of goodwill and conciliation, accepted to inscribe the Temple of Preah Vihear on the List of the World Heritage, at this stage, without a buffer zone on the north and west of the Temple.
=
Document 2: Joint Communique (18 June 2008 )

(Source – three pages, the third being the map under reference, with the are “N. 1″ claimed by Cambodia to be listed as a World Heritage Site, marked in light red):

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/pdf/jointcommunique.pdf

We could not yet find any source that the text and the appended map of the Joint Communique of 18 June 2008 was published in Cambodia – in a Khmer or any other language newspaper, or on an Internet site from Cambodia)

JOINT COMMUNIQUE


The meeting was held in a spirit of friendship and cooperation.

During the meeting both sides agreed as follows:

1. The Kingdom of Thailand supports the inscription, at the 32th session of the World Heritage Committee (Québec, Canada, July 2008), of the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List proposed by the Kingdom of Cambodia, the perimeter of which is identified as N. 1 in the map prepared by the Cambodian authorities and herewith attached. The map also includes, identified as N.2, a buffer zone to the East and South of the Temple.

2. In the spirit of goodwill and conciliation, the Kingdom of Cambodia accepts that the Temple of Preah Vihear be nominated for inscription on the World Heritage List without at this stage a buffer zone on the northern and western areas of the Temple.

3.The map mentioned in paragraph 1 above shall supersede the maps concerning and including the “Schéma Directeur pour le Zonage de Preah Vihear” as well as all the graphic references indicating the “core zone” and other zoning (zonage) of the Temple of Preah Vihear site in Cambodia’s nomination file;

5. The inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List shall be without prejudice to the rights of the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Kingdom of Thailand on the demarcation works of the Joint Commission for Land Boundary (JBC) of the two countries;



Phnom Penh, 18 June 2008
For the Royal Government of Cambodia
(signed)

H.E. Mr. SOK AN

Deputy Prime Minister, Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers

Bangkok, 18 June 2008

For the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand
Minister of Foreign Affairs
(signed)

H.E. Mr. NOPPADON PATTAMA

Paris, 18 June 2008Representative of the UNESCO(signed)Françoise RivièreAssistant Director-General for Culture

= = =

The public discussion in Cambodia without reference to these documents will continue emotionally; this is partly understandable. It is difficult to understand that the media in Cambodia are not bringing these documents – important statements on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia – into the public.

Cambodia's Hun Sen, one-eyed guerrilla turned to statesman

The China Post

By Patrick Falby, AFP
Monday, July 21, 2008

PHNOM PENH -- Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen lost an eye as a Khmer Rouge guerrilla in the 1970s,
but later abandoned the movement in his own ruthless drive to secure power and undercut all his rivals.

The 55-year-old premier has vowed to remain Cambodia's head of state until he is 90, and has been on top so long that many fear the country will collapse if he is suddenly removed.

Voters appear unlikely to end Hun Sen's 23-year rule when they go to the polls on July 27, with his Cambodian People's Party (CPP) expected to romp to victory.

His confidence is so complete that he has taken the unusual tactic of not campaigning for his re-election.

"I will not participate during the campaign. I don't want to face confrontation because during that time of year many people will criticize the CPP," he said.

And yet Hun Sen's presence is felt everywhere.

Outside of campaign season, Hun Sen appears in public almost every day. He is flown throughout the countryside in his helicopter to give televised speeches at the openings of pagodas, schools and bridges.

The message: Hun Sen brought you this.

"If I vote for a new political party, there might be chaos," said Say Phumivaun, a 19-year-old student from western Battambang province, voicing a familiar sentiment.

To rural villagers, Hun Sen is also the Cambodian everyman. His sharp, populist wit and humble upbringing making him one of their own.

He often veers from prepared remarks -- launching into coarsely-worded rants against phantom coups, arrogant foreigners or international demands for reform.

Born the third of six children to peasant farmers in central Cambodia, Hun Sen moved to the capital Phnom Penh at age 12, where he was so poor he was forced to live in a Buddhist pagoda while attending school.

When Cambodia fell into civil war in 1970, he became a foot soldier for what later emerged as the Khmer Rouge -- the genocidal regime behind Cambodia's killing fields.

Hun Sen claims he opposed the Khmer Rouge as early as 1975. But he remained with the movement, losing an eye in the fighting and rising to the rank of deputy regional commander.

He married field nurse Bun Rany in a mass ceremony in 1976, but fled a year later to Vietnam as the regime that killed up to two million people was consumed by its own paranoia, purging thousands.

Hun Sen returned in 1978 with other Cambodian defectors and Vietnamese troops who pushed the Khmer Rouge into the country's far northwest, where fighting lasted for another two decades.

He quickly rose to the top of the Hanoi-installed government of the 1980s, becoming the world's youngest prime minister in 1985.

As his country emerged from conflict, he abandoned the communist dogma of his Vietnamese patrons, embracing the free market and seeking out alliances with more powerful nations.

Today, the strongman has maneuvered his country from civil war into a position of growing regional influence and an avid partner with China and the United States.

Garment exports and tourism have brought double-digit economic growth, but Cambodia remains one of the world's poorest countries.

His administration is mired in corruption and Hun Sen is frequently the target of criticism that he tramples basic rights to keep his grip on power.

In 1993, he manhandled victory away from the country's royalists following Cambodia's first elections, backed by the United Nations.

He secured a power-sharing deal with the royalists, but ultimately ousted them in a bloody 1997 coup.

Hundreds of people were killed in the run-up to elections the following year. Protests against Hun Sen's victory were put down violently.

The last national election in 2003 was far less violent, but plunged the kingdom into a year of political stalemate as parties wrangled over forming a coalition.

This year's campaign is much calmer than the past, possibly because Hun Sen no longer faces any major rivals.

ASEAN ministers offer help in Thai-Cambodia dispute

Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Sahas Bunditkul smiles during a ministerial retreat at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ministerial Meeting in Singapore July 21, 2008. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash


Cambodia's Secretary of State Kao Kim Hourn speaks during a ministerial retreat at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ministerial Meeting in Singapore July 21, 2008. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash

Malaysia's Foreign Minister Rais Yatim (L) attends a ministerial retreat at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ministerial Meeting in Singapore July 21, 2008.
REUTERS/Vivek Prakash

Myanmar's Foreign Minister Nyan Win reads a document during a ministerial retreat at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ministerial Meeting in Singapore July 21, 2008. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash

Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Sahas Bunditkul (L) speaks to an aide during a ministerial retreat at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ministerial Meeting in Singapore July 21, 2008. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash

Mon Jul 21, 2008

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) urged Thailand and Cambodia to show "utmost caution and restraint" and offered to help resolve a stand-off between them, the head of the bloc's secretariat said on Monday.

Surin Pitsuan, ASEAN Secretary-General, said Phnom Penh also denied lodging a complaint or seeking intervention from the United Nations Security Council to resolve the dispute over a temple along Cambodia's border with Thailand.

"The ministers have urged utmost caution and restraint," Surin told reporters at the start of the annual ASEAN ministerial meeting in Singapore.

"The two sides had expressed a desire to respond to the goodwill, and request and urging of their colleagues. They are hoping that the two sides will find amicable resolution to the situation."

Surin said the ASEAN foreign ministers were informed on Sunday night by Thailand and Cambodia that there would be a meeting later on Monday near Bangkok to find ways to defuse tension and end the stand-off.

"The ministers also expressed readiness to extend ASEAN facilities in order to help resolve the situation and find resolution," he said, adding Cambodia clarified it was not seeking any action from the United Nations Security Council.

"It was just informing the U.N. Security Council and was not asking for any involvement or any help at this point."

Hundreds of Thai and Cambodian troops faced each other at the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple for a seventh day on Monday, a stand-off some fear could turn violent.

The temple, perched on a jungle-clad escarpment that forms a natural boundary between the two nations, has been a source of tension since the International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that it belonged to Cambodia, a decision that still angers Thais.

At the heart of the current dispute is a 4.6 sq km (1.8 sq mile) area around the temple claimed by both sides.

Thai troops moved into the disputed area last Tuesday after three Thai protesters were detained by Cambodian soldiers as they tried to plant a Thai flag on the temple.

On Monday, The two defence ministers will meet in Thailand to try to end the impasse, which has revived memories of a 2003 spat over another Cambodian temple, Angkor Wat. That dispute saw a nationalist mob setting fire to the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh.

Analysts say domestic politics in Thailand, where the temple is known as Khao Pra Viharn, have played a key role in fueling the border dispute.

Preah Vihear's listing as a World Heritage site this month triggered a political uproar in Bangkok, where the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) accused the government of selling out Thailand's history by initially backing the listing.

The PAD, a coalition of activists and royalists, is waging a street campaign against Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, whom they accuse of being a proxy of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted in a coup in 2006.

ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, groups Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, the Philippines, Brunei, Myanmar, Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam and Malaysia.

(Reporting by Manny Mogato; editing by Jerry Norton)

News #7 - Preah Vihear - 20.07.2008

Savada Khmer; a song composed by Samdech Sangha Raja Jhotañano Chuon Nath (1883 -1969).

Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Several thousand people gathered at Wat Phnom to celebrate the day. Savada Khmer [in PDF], a song composed by Samdech Sangha Raja Jhotañano Chuon Nath (1883 -1969).


Savada Khmer translated into English

All Khmers, please remember the root and history of our great country
Our boundary was wide and well known
Others always thought highly of our race
And always placed our race as the elders.

We have great heritage and culture
Which has spread far and wide in the Far East.
Religion, arts and education,
Music, philosophy and strategies are all that we have spread.

All Khmers, please remember our roots and history
Which speaks of the grandeur of our great race
Make up your mind and body and try hard to rebuild
In order to lift the value of our nation
To once again rise to the greatness that we once had.

Border dispute, Myanmar, top ASEAN ministers' talks

A man walks in front of a logo of Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Singapore

SINGAPORE (AFP) — Southeast Asian foreign ministers urged Thailand and Cambodia to show restraint in a border dispute, and urged Myanmar to free all political prisoners, as annual talks began Sunday night.

Ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) began their talks over dinner while two of its members, Thailand and Cambodia, were locked in an armed standoff over a border temple, and after rogue member Myanmar extended opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest.

Thailand and Cambodia have agreed to "exert utmost efforts" to find a peaceful solution to their standoff, Singapore's Foreign Minister George Yeo said after the dinner at a restaurant in the city-state's botanical gardens.

"Both sides affirmed that they would abide by their ASEAN and international obligations and exert their utmost efforts to find a peaceful solution to the issue," Yeo said in a statement.

More than 500 Thai troops and well over 1,000 Cambodian soldiers are stationed around a small Buddhist pagoda leading to the ruins of an 11th-century temple, where nearby land is claimed by both sides.

"We urged both sides to exercise utmost restraint and resolve this issue amicably in the spirit of ASEAN solidarity and good neighbourliness," Yeo said.

The foreign ministers also expressed "deep disappointment" over the extension of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's detention and called for all political prisoners in the country to be freed, Yeo said.

"They repeated the call by ASEAN leaders for the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other political detainees as part of Myanmar's national reconciliation process," he said.

Myanmar's ruling generals extended Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest by one year on May 27. She has spent most of the past 18 years confined to her lakeside home in Myanmar's main city Yangon.

ASEAN has often been criticised for failing to act firmly against member Myanmar over human rights abuses and a lack of democratic progress.

Myanmar's junta should engage in "a meaningful dialogue with all political groups", Yeo said.

While the border dispute and Myanmar dominated the first night of the ministers' meeting, high on the official agenda is a new ASEAN charter which would create an EU-style economic block committed to democracy and human rights by 2015.

Efforts to get aid to about two million survivors of Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar are also expected to feature prominently when talks continue on Monday.

Myanmar earned international contempt by refusing to allow a foreign-led relief effort when the May cyclone left 138,000 dead or missing.

ASEAN won praise for eventually bridging the gap between the junta and the outside world over cyclone relief efforts by taking the lead on a joint aid mission with the military authorities and the United Nations.

The mission is expected to release its full report on the humanitarian situation in Myanmar's devastated southern delta region here on Monday.

The temple standoff began after three Thai protesters were arrested on Tuesday for crossing a fence to reach the ancient ruins, which have been a source of tension between the neighbours for decades.

Defence officials from both countries plan to meet on the border on Monday to try to defuse the crisis.

Thai government representatives here said they could not discuss whether the countries' ministers would hold bilateral talks in Singapore.

"Any tension, any misunderstanding between and among member states is always an issue of concern for ASEAN," the bloc's secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan said earlier Sunday.
He said the ministers were keen to see the matter resolved "as soon as possible."