Saturday, 18 October 2008

Fundrasing to contribute to the family of the 3 Heroes soldier

To all CAAI members

The Cambodian Association (Auckland) Inc. is sharing our condolence to the families of the three soldiers who lost their lives in the course of defending Cambodian sovereignty and pride.

We are planning to accept donation from member of our community in New Zealand from Sunday the 19th October 2008 to Sunday the 2nd November 2008 and will pass on to the three families.

Donation can be made to Wat Udom Samagum temple, Leng Hor (09 277 6351) and the list of donors will be registered and updated in this site until the fund are completely passed on to the three families.

We thank you for your thought and looking forward to your contribution

Leng Hor
The Cambodian Association (Auckland) Inc.

The three Khmer Heroes - Preah Vihear

These three Khmer heroes died in the cause of protecting Khmer land at Preah Vihear. Please take a minute to pray and pay respects to those who died.

A nation divided by politics

Colour-coded choices: A demonstrator walking past hand-clappers, which have become the symbol of anti-government protests, in Bangkok. — AFP

The Star Online

Saturday October 18, 2008

Thailand is now split between those for and against the People’s Alliance of Democracy (PAD), a movement trying to eradicate what it thinks is the root of all evil in Thai politics – Thaksin Shinawatra, the former Thai prime minister who was ousted in a 2006 coup.

WHAT does a Thai doctor check first?

a) Your blood pressure.
b) Your weight.
c) Your temperature.
d) Your political views.

The answer is “d” if your doctor is from Chulalongkorn Hospital in Bangkok.

A day after the Oct 7 bloody street battles in the Thai capital between the People’s Alliance of Democracy (PAD) and the police that killed two PAD protesters, about 50 doctors from the Chulalongkorn Hospital announced that they would not treat policemen.

“Today, medical teams of Chulalongkorn Hospital will not give assistance to police officers injured in clashes with PAD supporters. This is a social measure to show that doctors and nurses condemn the violent actions,” said Dr Suthep Koncharnwit.

Up north, 70 doctors at Chiang Mai University’s faculty of medicine declared that they would not treat policemen, Cabinet members and government MPs - except in emergency cases.

Another quiz.

If you are a pilot, will you refuse to fly a passenger because she/he is?

a) Osama bin Laden.
b) A threat to the safety of other passengers.
c) A MP from People Power Party (PPP, the ruling party the PAD love to hate).
d) Sarah Palin.

The answer, if you’re Thai Airways pilot Jakrit Pongsirim, is a combination of “b” and “c”.

The day after the police used tear gas to disperse PAD protesters blockading parliament on Oct 7, Jakrit - in two separate domestic flights - refused to allow three PPP MPs from boarding his aircraft.

The pilot told a Thai Airways panel investigating the incidents that he was compelled to reject the MPs because they could cause trouble as other passengers could become angry if they saw them in the aircraft.

Another quiz.

What does the two incidents tell you about Thailand?

a) The country is so politically divided that it is now Thai versus Thai.

b) A war has erupted between those who clutch hand-shaped clappers (the PAD’s favourite political “weapon”) and those who clasp foot-shaped clappers (produced recently for the pro-PPP supporters).

c) It is all grouchy in the Land of Smiles.

If you are Kriengsak Chareonwongsak, who contested in the recent Bangkok governor race as an independent, your answers are “a” and “b”.

“It is a reflection of the division in this society,” explains the former Democrat Party MP. “And this division has drawn a deep wedge which can be felt even among families, friends and colleagues.”

Thailand is now split between those for or against the PAD (a movement seeking to eradicate what it thinks is the root of all evil in Thai politics - Thaksin Shinawatra, a former Thai prime minister who was ousted in a 2006 coup).

The split, according to the 53-year-old politician, is the worst since the 1970s that saw two brutal crackdowns on pro-democracy demonstrators in the “Black October” of 1973 and 1976.

Thais, observes Kriengsak, are overtly declaring their political affiliation.

For example, those carrying hand-shaped clappers want to make a personal statement that they are with the PAD.

However, it will be too simplistic to colour code Thais into “yellow” (the colour of PAD) and “red” (the colour of the PPP) because there are those who are neither yellow nor red.

Kriengsak estimates that 30% of Thais are pro-PPP, 20% are pro-PAD and the rest - including himself - are caught in the middle.

Those in the middle disagree with the use of violence (from both sides) to resolve the country’s political conflict.

And the neutrals are fed up.

“We wonder when will these clashes end? When can we go back to our normal life?” Kriengsak says.

Final quiz.

On Wednesday, Thai and Cambodian soldiers exchanged rockets and gunfire along their disputed border.

Will this border dispute where two Cambodian soldiers were killed and Thai soldiers captured:
a) Unite polarised Thais to fight against an external enemy?

b) Weaken the government because it will be fighting at two fronts - Cambodia and the PAD?
The answer varies.

Ed Cropley of Reuters says: “A border war with one of Thailand’s traditional enemies would likely rally some support behind the government and army.”

But some political analysts predict another “final battle” between anti and pro-government supporters is looming in Bangkok.

Cambodia-Thai Clash

Thailand: "the land of the smiling" invaders

Thailand invades and makes Cambodian people suffer as the world stands by and watches, again. By KhmerTruth

Pictures from Preah Vihear, Cambodian residing temporarily in the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple

Cambodian children eat noodles while residing temporarily in the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, about 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh, October 17, 2008. Nearly 200 Cambodian residents living near the temple have taken refuge on its grounds, after recent fighting killed three Cambodian soldiers, a local Cambodian newspaper reported. The International Court of Justice awarded the temple to Cambodia in 1962, but the court failed to determine the ownership of 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) Hindu ruins, a ruling that has rankled with Thais ever since. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

A Cambodian girl washes the dishes while residing temporarily in the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, about 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh, October 17, 2008. Nearly 200 Cambodian residents living near the temple have taken refuge on its grounds, after recent fighting killed three Cambodian soldiers, a local Cambodian newspaper reported. The International Court of Justice awarded the temple to Cambodia in 1962, but the court failed to determine the ownership of 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) Hindu ruins, a ruling that has rankled with Thais ever since. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

A Cambodian boy listens to the radio after his family fled their home to take refuge in the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, about 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh, October 17, 2008. Nearly 200 Cambodian residents living near the temple have taken refuge on its grounds, after recent fighting killed three Cambodian soldiers, a local Cambodian newspaper reported. The International Court of Justice awarded the temple to Cambodia in 1962, but the court failed to determine the ownership of 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) Hindu ruins, a ruling that has rankled with Thais ever since. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

A Cambodian girl keeps warm near a fire while taking refuge inside the walls of the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple October 17, 2008. Nearly 200 Cambodian residents living near the temple have taken refuge on its grounds, after recent fighting killed 3 Cambodian soldiers, a local Cambodia newspaper reported. The International Court of Justice awarded it to Cambodia in 1962, but the court failed to determine the ownership of 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) Hindu ruins, a ruling that has rankled with Thais ever since. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Pictures from Preah Vihear, Cambodian Army

Cambodian soldiers walk through the famed Preah Vihear temple as they head for the frontline of the Cambodia-Thailand border in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Friday, Oct. 17, 2008. Cambodia's prime minister called Friday for more talks with Thailand after a deadly armed clash raised fears the two neighbors were headed for a full-scale war over a patch of disputed land along their border. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Cambodian soldier, right, holds an unexploited B-40 rocket launcher as other soldiers look on at the frontline of the Cambodia-Thailand border near the famed Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Friday, Oct. 17, 2008. Cambodia's prime minister called Friday for more talks with Thailand after a deadly armed clash raised fears the two neighbors were headed for a full-scale war over a patch of disputed land along their border. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Cambodian soldier carries an artillery shell near the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh October 17, 2008. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Friday this week's border clashes with Thailand around the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple would not escalate into a wider and more serious conflict. "People should understand that there won't be any large-scale war taking place," he told reporters after a weekly cabinet meeting, adding people living near the border need not worry. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

A Cambodian soldier holds a rocket launcher while standing guard inside the grounds of the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple, along the Thai-Cambodian border, October 17, 2008. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Friday this week's border clashes with Thailand around the temple would not escalate into a wider and more serious conflict. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Cambodian solders stand guard near the Engel field at the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, about 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh, October 17, 2008. Thai and Cambodian army commanders ended five hours of talks on Thursday with no agreement to withdraw their forces after heavy fighting near the temple killed two Cambodian soldiers. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Cambodian solders patrol near the Engel field at the disputed 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, about 543 km (337 miles) north of Phnom Penh, October 17, 2008. Thai and Cambodian army commanders ended five hours of talks on Thursday with no agreement to withdraw their forces after heavy fighting near the temple killed two Cambodian soldiers. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Pictures from Preah Vihear, THAI Army

A Thai soldier camouflages his tank at the disputed Thai-Cambodia border near the Preah Vihear temple in Si Sa Ket province, northeast of Bangkok October 18, 2008. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom (THAILAND)

Thai soldiers chat each other at the jungle along the Cambodia-Thailand border near the famed Preah Vihear temple in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Friday, Oct. 17, 2008. Cambodia's prime minister called Friday for more talks with Thailand after a deadly armed clash raised fears the two neighbors were headed for a full-scale war over a patch of disputed land along their border.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Thai soldier rests on his tank at the disputed Thai-Cambodia border near the Preah Vihear temple in Si Sa Ket province, northeast of Bangkok October 18, 2008.REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom (THAILAND)

A Thai soldier stands next to a camouflaged tank at the disputed Thai-Cambodia border near the Preah Vihear temple in Si Sa Ket province, northeast of Bangkok October 18, 2008. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom (THAILAND)

A Thai soldier stands guard next to a tank near disputed Thai-Cambodia border near the Preah Vihear temple in Si Sa Ket province, northeast of Bangkok October 17, 2008. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom (THAILAND)

Thai soldiers stand guard next to a tank near disputed Thai-Cambodia border near the Preah Vihear temple in Si Sa Ket province, northeast of Bangkok October 17, 2008. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom (THAILAND)

Wounded soldier in coma

By Pongphon Sarnsamak
The Nation
Published on October 18, 2008

Army Ranger Boonrit Khantee, one of four soldiers hospitalised following Wednesday's skirmish with Cambodian troops, is now in a coma, Public Health Minster Chalerm Yoobamrung said yesterday.

The other three are still undergoing treatment in hospital. Boonrit suffered a severe shrapnel injury to the left side of his head.

He remained unconscious after undergoing an operation on Wednesday and is now on a respirator in the intensive care unit.

"He is unresponsive and has cerebral oedema," Chalerm said. The public health minister has assigned two specialists - Dr Monchai Viwattanasittipong, an accident expert, and Dr Prawatwong Wongsrikawe, a neurosurgeon - to look after Boonrit.

The three other hospitalised soldiers are undergoing treatment in Kantharalak district hospital in Si Sa Ket for minor injuries. They are SgtMajor Nattaphon, who suffered a bad sprain; SgtMajor Preecha Pokphan, who has a shrapnel wound on his right thumb; and Ranger Krissanarak Chandang, who suffered shrapnel to his right knee.

Doctors removed the shrapnel from Preecha and Krissanarak, and they will be released from hospital tomorrow, said Chalerm.

Wednesday's clash over a disputed area on the Cambodian border injured 10 Thai soldiers.

Giving young dancers a break

Tuy Sobil, center in the white tank top, watches as his students break dance in the third-floor studio of his home in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Sobil is a teacher and former gang member from Long Beach who founded the break dancing nonprofit Tiny Toones in 2004. (Jeff Gritchen/Staff Photographer)

Contra Costa Times

By Greg Mellen, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 10/17/2008

LONG BEACH - Images of b-boys, break dancers and crew battles don't necessarily equate to social activism in many minds.

The slums of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, may not seem like the breeding ground for a new wave of world class hip-hop dancers.

But if a seemingly mismatched combination of a b-boy artist from Seattle, several Long Beach activists and a deportee former gang member turned teacher have their way, those preconceptions will soon end.

Phanna Nam, or Peanut as he is known in dancing circles, is a Cambodian-American member of the renowned Massive Monkees dance group in Seattle. A year ago, he traveled to Cambodia for the first time and had a life-transforming experience.

After graduating from high school Tan, 24, was attending college when he says, "I had a revelation, a calling to go to Cambodia."

While overseas, Nam met another talented break dancer, a teacher and former gang member from Long Beach named Tuy Sobil, and a bond was formed.

Tuy, better known as KK in dance circles, was deported to Cambodia after being convicted of armed robbery and completing his jail sentence in the United States.

Tuy soon drew the notice of admiration of local children for his dance moves and before long they were flocking to watch and learn his techniques.

Seeing break dancing as an effective tool to engage children from the impoverished area in a constructive pursuit, Tuy founded Tiny Toones in 2004.

Since its formation, the group has become a spectacular success and springboard to offer education and social services to the children, many of whom are the children and siblings of sex workers, drug users and dropouts.

Now, in addition to learning windmills and head spins, kids also learn about HIV/AIDs and receive access to a variety of mental and physical health services. Many are also given food and shelter.

After teaching classes in his home for the first few years and picking up expenses, Tuy is moving Tiny Toones to a new center that will continue to offer dance classes plus myriad drop-in services and language training in English and Khmer.

When Nam met Tuy and saw the kids of Tiny Toones, he knew he had to be a part of it.

"We just connected," Nam says of his relationship with Tuy. "We had a lot in common, although he's a little more severe with the gang stuff. He's given me an opportunity and a dream."

What impressed Nam was the organic way in which Tiny Toones came together.

"The thing that drew me was this was asked for by the people. It wasn't a church or someone that came in and told the people what to do," Nam says. "It's not telling them what to do, it's working with them and growing with them."

Nam has been dancing since he was a child and became a founding member of Massive Monkees, which has earned world acclaim.

Now, Nam wants to bring that to Cambodia. The young dancer plans to move to Cambodia in November and start working with the kids in earnest.

With the help of several Long Beach residents who are helping put together a nonprofit in the United States, Nam sees Tiny Toones as having the chance to become a major player in the international break dancing scene and produce world-class talent.

"Can you imagine bringing a kid from a village (in Cambodia) to London to compete?" Nam says. "Eventually we'll get Tiny Toones out there."

Ryan Tong, a recent Cal State Long Beach graduate who is helping with the business side of Tiny Toones, says the goal of Tiny Toones is also to teach the kids to manage and oversee finances and eventually let them run the nonprofit.

"As much as art is important, so is money." Tong says. "That's freedom."

Although not a dancer himself, Tong is eager to learn.

"I'll be one of the first guys who learns break dancing to do social work," he says with a laugh.
A step down that path will occur tonight at Cal State Long Beach with a break dancing contest and benefit titled "Beyond the Mats 2," which will raise funds for Tiny Toones.

Nam expects upward of 400 or 500 spectators and participants.

In addition to putting on a good show with hot music and dancing, Nam and Tong hope to also get the message out to the b-boy and b-girl culture that they are part of something global and important and they can make a difference.

"We want to raise the consciousness of people here," Nam said. "We want to connect b-boys with issues of importance."

RI Should Lead Efforts To Resolve Thai-Cambodian Dispute : Legislator

JAKARTA, Oct 17 (Bernama) -- As the biggest ASEAN member country, Indonesia should be taking the lead in efforts to resolve the escalating Thai-Cambodian border dispute, ANTARA news agency quoted a legislator as saying.

"Both Thailand and Cambodia are part of ASEAN and therefore we should not let other parties intervene in their conflict. I hope Indonesia will play an active and tangible role in efforts to overcome the problem," Yusron Ihza Mahendra, vice chairman of the House of Representatives (DPR)'s Commission I, said here Friday.

Speaking to reporters one day after returning in Jakarta from a three-day visit in Cambodia, the Crescent Star Party (PBB) politician said the situation at the Thai-Cambodian border was tense and had a tendency to escalate.

"I was in Cambodia for three days and I saw that the border conflict between Thailand and Cambodia has a tendency to escalate if there is no intervention from a neutral party," he said.

Therefore, he expressed hope that the Indonesian government through its diplomatic instruments would immediately play an active and tangible role to resolve the conflict.

"Indonesia should be in the forefront . Do not let other countries outside ASEAN intervene," Mahendra said, adding that Jakarta needed to play a role in bringing Thailand and Cambodia to a negotiation table.

He said if the government deemed it necessary to send a peace-keeping force to the Thai-Cambodian border, the House Commission I would support it.


Joint patrols at Cambodia, Thai border


Friday, October 17, 2008

THAILAND and Cambodia yesterday agreed to joint patrols of disputed border areas after deadly clashes between the two sides, but made little progress in their months-long spat.

Senior military officials from both sides met in Thailand the day after gunfights broke out on disputed land near Preah Vihear temple, a UN heritage site on Cambodian territory and the focus of months of tensions.

"We will introduce the joint patrol to avoid this kind of incident happening again," said Lieutenant General Wiboonsak Neeparn, Thailand's northeastern army commander, after the five-hour meeting.

Cambodian defence minister Tea Banh called the outcome "a good result".

"We understood each other," he told AFP. "We cannot patrol individually because it could lead to a misunderstanding."

Officials from both countries said there was little headway on the deeper issues of ending the stand-off and withdrawing troops or heavy weaponry from a number of disputed border areas near the 11th century Preah Vihear temple.

"The meeting has not made much progress, but the two sides agreed to stay where they are," Wiboonsak told reporters.

Governments from both countries have said they are seeking to calm the situation and mend relations, and the United States, the United Nations and the European Union have all called for restraint.

Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, meanwhile, said his country was ready to mediate between Thailand and Cambodia.

But officials from both sides continue to insist they did not ignite Wednesday's firefight, which left two Cambodian soldiers dead and two injured, and seven Thai soldiers wounded.

A third Cambodian soldier who had already been ill died early yesterday of smoke inhalation from repeatedly firing his rocket-launcher, said Cambodian Major Meas Yeoun.

The Cambodian army said it had released 13 Thai soldiers yesterday after they surrendered but Thai officials denied any of their troops had been captured.

The situation on the border appeared calmer yesterday as soldiers smiled and exchanged cordial words while officials from both sides toned down their rhetoric.

Lieutenant General Surapol Puanaiyaka, of Thailand's National Security Council, said there was little danger of outright war. AFP

Thai, Cambodian army officers discuss border truce

International Herald Tribune
The Associated Press
Published: October 18, 2008

PREAH VIHEAR, Cambodia: Thai and Cambodian field commanders worked Saturday to strengthen a fragile truce following a deadly gunbattle between their soldiers stationed on the border.

The commanders, Cambodian Maj. Gen. Srey Doek and Thai Col. Chayan Huaysoongnern, conducted a joint inspection of their troops, ate lunch together and discussed how to prevent future flare-ups of violence in disputed territory near an 11th century temple.

Fighting between the two sides Wednesday killed two Cambodian soldiers and led to fears of war between the neighbors.

"We would like to see stability restored as it was before the clash and promote friendship between the two countries," Srey Doek told Chayan as they sat at a bamboo table erected in the jungle.

Chayan nodded, smiled and said "yes."

As they talked, dozens of their soldiers in full combat gear stood near them.

Cambodia's prime minister on Friday downplayed Wednesday's clash and urged further negotiations to prevent the dispute from again turning violent.

Speaking after a Cabinet meeting, Hun Sen described the battle as "a minor armed clash."
"We can still talk to each other and are not yet enemies unwilling to talk to each other at all," Hun Sen said.

The fighting was the latest flare-up in a decades-old dispute over a stretch of jungle near the Preah Vihear temple. The World Court awarded the temple to Cambodia in 1962, but sovereignty over surrounding land has never been clearly resolved.

Analysts say the conflict has been fueled by domestic concerns in the two countries.

In Thailand, resurgent nationalism, promoted by a protest group seeking to topple the government, has put authorities in Bangkok under political pressure to aggressively pursue claims to the land.

Cambodia has historically felt marginalized and abused by its more powerful neighbors, Thailand and Vietnam. The dispute allows Hun Sen to portray himself as an aggressive defender of Cambodia's national rights, said Milton Osborne, an Australian historian specializing in Southeast Asia.

Associated Press writers Ker Munthit in Phnom Penh and Grant Peck in Bangkok contributed to this report.

PM plans to talk to Hun Sen on border conflict

( – Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat said he believes the government could solve border conflict through talks with the government of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, without the help of a mediator or an international organisation.

Mr Somchai said the government would schedule a meeting with Hun Sen in the near future.
He insisted that Thailand, as a good neighbour, want to find a peaceful solution to the conflict with Cambodia.

He added that Thailand’s political turmoil would not have any impact on the talk.

Thai, Cambodian troops meet at disputed border for informal talks

A Cambodian soldier (L) shakes hands with a Thai soldier (R)

Cambodian general Srey Dek (left) and Thai colonel Chayan Huay Soongnern hold hands

PREAH VIHEAR, Cambodia (AFP) — Thai and Cambodian commanders brought troops together on their disputed border Saturday for informal talks aimed at preventing further skirmishes after deadly gunfights earlier this week.

Cambodian Major General Srey Deok and Thai Colonel Chayan Huaysoongnern ordered troops not to fire their weapons again and had their captains shake hands on the frontline of their standoff near the ancient Preah Vihear temple.

"Let's tell our soldiers to sit down and talk together. We (commanders) have good feeling, but our soldiers have not yet felt good," Srey Deok said as the commanders sat surrounded by their troops.

"Everyone is still on alert, so I am afraid another problem could occur," he added.

The two sides agreed that low-level officers should now meet regularly to reduce tensions between the forces after two Cambodian soldiers were killed and several men from both sides injured after shooting broke out on Wednesday.

The two commanders also agreed to fill in bunkers dug in the area, building on an earlier agreement to begin joint border patrols. No timetable has yet been set for either action.

Laughing and joking together after the meeting, Chayan and Srey Deok ate lunch at a pagoda in the disputed territory.

Thailand's prime minister, under pressure from military chiefs to resign, on Saturday flew to the Cambodian border to visit soldiers injured in deadly clashes between the two nations.

Somchai Wongsawat was due to visit a military hospital in eastern Ubon Ratchathani province, where one soldier remains critically ill following a gunfight with Cambodian troops on their disputed border on Wednesday.

The current standoff first flared in July after Preah Vihear was awarded UNESCO world heritage status, angering Thai nationalists who claim ownership of the site.

The situation quickly escalated into a military confrontation, with up to 1,000 Cambodian and Thai troops facing off for six weeks, although both sides in August agreed to reduce troop numbers in the main disputed area.

The Cambodian-Thai border has never been fully demarcated, in part because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia.

Cambodian restaurant changes its name over Thai conflict

Cambodian Buddhist monks walk at Preah Vihear temple

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — A restaurant in Cambodia's capital has changed its name in the wake of a bitter border dispute with Thailand, local media reported Saturday.

The Olympic Khmer-Thai, a joint venture between Cambodian and Thai businessmen, has added an "l" to its title -- becoming Olympic Khmer-Thlai. Thlai" translates as "expensive" or "noble".

The restaurant, based near Phnom Penh's Olympic market, changed its name before deadly border clashes on Wednesday between Thai and Cambodian troops.

But the decades-long dispute, over ownership of an area close to the ancient Preah Vihear temple, has been escalating over the past few months amid mounting nationalist tensions on both sides.

"The reason why the restaurant, set up in 2006, was named "Khmer-Thai" was that it is partly owned by Thai businessmen and has some Thai chefs," a restaurant representative told the Khmer-language Rasmei Kampuchea newspaper.

"The change came after the on-going conflict between Cambodia and Thailand because we are afraid it will cause future problems to our restaurant," he said.

PM visits soldiers wounded in clashes with Cambodia

( – Security in a military airport in Ubon Ratchathani province has been stepped up on Saturday morning as Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat is scheduled to visit soldiers wounded in gun fight between Thailand and Cambodia around disputed area near Preah Vihear temple.

Riot police were also deployed there to ensure safety for Mr Somchai.

Army chief Anupong Paojinda did not accompany him on the visit. Rifts between the premier and military leaders have turned sour after he rejected Gen Anupong’s call to step down to take responsibility for the Oct 7 violence.

Mr Somchai refused to give any interviews in the morning. He only said he would speak to the press after he returns to Bangkok in the evening.

Pictures from Preah Vihear

General Srey Doeuk leading Cambodian and Thai generals and staff to a pagoda near Preah Vihear temple on 16 October 2008 (Photo: AFP)

Funeral ceremony for Cambodian soldiers killed in border clashes Photo: EPA

Thailand urges Cambodia to investigate violation of landmine ban


On 17 October 2008, Mr. Anuson Chinvanno, Director-General of the Department of East Asian Affairs, met with Mr. Mr. Ouk Sophoin, Cambodian Charge d'Affaires to Thailand, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and presented the latter with an Aide-Memoire regarding the incident on 6 October 2008, during which two Thai soldiers stepped on landmines and lost their legs during a routine patrol inside Thai territory. The gist of the Aide-Memoire can be summarized as follows:

The Royal Thai Government views the said landmine incident with great alarm, as it indicates violation of the Convention on the Prohibition on the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on Their Destruction of 1997, known as the Ottawa Mine Ban Convention, as well as a threat to international peace.

Royal Thai Government wishes to strongly emphasize that the de-mining operation undertaken by Thai Mines Action Center (TMAC) and other NGOs on 13 October 2008 in the area adjacent to the Temple of Phra Viharn, was conducted within Thai territory. The PMN2-type mines that were found at Phu Ma Khua by TMAC and other NGOs are newly-planted.

The Royal Thai Government urges the Cambodian authorities concerned to investigate whether any individual within Cambodia's jurisdiction has violated legislation to ban the use of anti-personnel landmines. The Royal Thai Government wishes to point out that according to Cambodia's 2005 transparency report submitted to the Secretary-General of the United Nations under Article 7 of the Ottawa Mine Ban Convention, Cambodia reported that in 2002, 240 PMN2-type landmines out of a total of 3,405 were transferred from the Ministry of Interior of Cambodia to Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) for development and training. The Royal Thai Government wishes to urge the Cambodian authorities concerned to verify as to where the remaining of the PMN-2 anti-personnel mines are so as to justify the Cambodian statement that Cambodia has no stock of mines.

The Royal Thai Government regards this development with grave concern, as the incident marked a serious violation of the Ottawa Mine Ban Convention by a state which is also a State Party to the Ottawa Mine Ban Convention. Thailand is deeply disappointed that anti-personnel landmines are still used in this day and age. It is also truly disheartening that a fellow State Party to the Ottawa Mine Ban Convention who fully understands the dreadful effects of landmines could still carry out such an act.

With regard to the provision under Article 8 of the Ottawa Mine Ban Convention, there are measures that can be taken by Thailand, and Thailand reserves her right to carry out such measures. However, in order to achieve the goal set fourth in the Convention and as Cambodia and Thailand are State Parties to the Convention, Thailand is therefore ready to consult and cooperate with the Royal Government of Cambodia to resolve our existing differences. Thailand remains committed to resolving our neighbourly issues peacefully through bilateral consultations under the many frameworks already in place.

Regarding bilateral talks, the Director-General also informed the Charge d Affaires that the Cabinet should be able to appoint the new Thai Chairman of the Thai-Cambodian Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary (JBC) next week. It was also expected that at its meeting on 22 October 2008, the House of Representatives would consider the negotiating framework on the provisional arrangement between Thailand and Cambodia, which would pave the way for further talks between both countries.

Ex-Khmer Rouge minister loses appeal for release


PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia's genocide tribunal on Friday rejected an appeal by the Khmer Rouge's former foreign minister for release from pretrial detention on charges of crimes against humanity and war atrocities.

Judge Prak Kim San rejected Ieng Sary's appeal out of concern he could flee if released.

Peter Foster, a spokesman for the U.N.-assisted tribunal, said the judge's ruling was also based on concerns that Ieng Sary could intimidate potential witnesses.

The tribunal is seeking to establish accountability for an estimated 1.7 million deaths and other atrocities under the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge regime.

Ieng Sary, 82, is one of five former senior members of the ultra-communist regime detained by the tribunal.

His wife, Ieng Thirith, the former social affairs minister, is also detained on charges of crimes against humanity.

During a hearing in July, defense attorneys argued that Ieng Sary should be released because of ill health and the possibility that prosecution would constitute double jeopardy — being judged twice for the same crime.

Ieng Sary was condemned to death by a tribunal under a communist government installed by Vietnamese troops after they toppled the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979. That tribunal was a show trial with no real effort to allow a defense.

Former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk pardoned Ieng Sary in 1996 as a reward for his leading thousands of his fellow guerrillas to join the government, a move that foreshadowed the Khmer Rouge's final collapse in 1999 and brought an end to the country's civil war.

The pardon issue once threatened to derail negotiations between the Cambodia and the United Nations on establishing the tribunal.

After years of difficult talks, the two sides agreed on a tribunal pact in 2003 which contains a clause preventing the government from seeking "amnesty or pardon for any persons who may be investigated for or convicted of crimes" during the time of Khmer Rouge rule.

The tribunal has not set a clear timeline for opening its first trial, although it has said it would start early next year.

Repeated delays in convening trials has prompted fears that the accused, who are aging and in ill health, may die before they can be brought to justice.

Cambodia Will Be Not Much Affected by the World Financial Crisis - Friday, 17.10.2008

Posted on 17 October 2008
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 582

“There are indications that the value of stocks at the stock exchanges in every country in Asia and in Europe dropped. Can Cambodia avoid this crisis? Experts expressed different opinions.

“Mr. Huot Pum, a professor of economics of the Royal University of Law and Economics, said that the financial crisis will not affect the Cambodian financial system, because Cambodia did not have a stock market, and the fields of insurance and of investors in Cambodia in general do not have much financial relations with the outside world. The Professor said, ‘It will not affect our financial system. Most banks in Cambodia do not have money to buy stocks from foreign countries.’ Mr. Sum Sonnisith, the secretary general of the National Bank said, ‘Our banking system is not affected by this crisis, because there is not yet a full integration into the world economy.’

“However, according to Mr. Huot Pum, this crisis might affect the economy, like the garment sector and the tourist industry, as Cambodia exports most of its garment products to the United States market. Regarding this crisis, Mr. Van Sou Ieng, the president of the Garment Manufactures Association of Cambodia, pointed out that the recent closing down of some garment factories in Cambodia resulted from the influence of the financial crisis in the United States.

“Mr. Vong Sandap, the secretary general of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, said that more or less, the crisis in the United States will really affect Cambodia, for example, in the field of real estate, which is in stagnation. Mr. Sandap added, ‘Facing this crisis, the Cambodian government has taken some action by increasing the minimal capital to be kept by banks from 8% to 16%, and has set a limit for providing loans for buying real estate.

“As for Mr. Chan Sophal, the president of the Cambodian Economic Association, he did not deny the negative impacts of this crisis on Cambodia. Mr. Chan Sophal thinks that different influences relate to foreign investors. This economist analyzed, ‘When the crisis happens, some foreign investors, who have sustained negative impacts from the crisis, will not come to invest in Cambodia.’ On the other hand, this crisis might encourage some investors to look at some countries which are different, including Cambodia. In the period of three years, from 2005 to 2007, the economy grew continually, but this year, the economic growth will drops to 7% because of the rising price of goods. The present crisis will slow down Cambodian economic growth in 2008.

“Cambodia, which was suffered from more than thirty years civil war, has just started to implement a free market economic system early in the 1990s. Although there is such freedom and openness, the Cambodian economy has not had specific relations with the regional and international economy. That is why Cambodia could avoid the financial crisis in 1997 in Asia, and this time also, Cambodia does not get much affected. Cambodia does not benefit much from the international economy, but it also does not sustain much negative impact from the international crisis.”
Cambodge Soir, Vol.2, #54, 16-22.10.2008
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 17 October 2008

Situation Normal After Clashes: Top General

Thai soldiers, above, remain encamped across the border despite firefights with Cambodian units at three sites near Preah Vihear temple Wednesday.
By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Original report from Preah Vihear province
17 October 2008

Khmer audio aired 17 October 2008 (755 KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 17 October 2008 (755 KB) - Listen (MP3)

Cambodia’s top military commander said Friday tensions had eased on the border near Preah Vihear temple, but soldiers on the front line worried of more fighting in the wake of three skirmishes this week.

Commanders in the field met for a second round of talks Friday, after gun battles at three sites near Preah Vihear temple left at least three Cambodians dead Wednesday.

The situation on the border was “normal” following the violence, but Cambodian soldiers were remaining vigilant, Gen. Ke Kim Yan, commander-in-chief of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, told reporters after meeting his Thai counterpart.

Ke Kim Yan also said the sides had not agreed to joint patrols, despite reported statements by the Thai side to the contrary.

Neither side has been able to agree on border demarcations, making joint patrols impossible, he said.

Meanwhile, soldiers on the front lines in the forested mountains surrounding Preah Vihear temple said they worried about more fighting, despite negotiations.

Both sides had ceased speaking to each other or shaking hands, as they had before Wednesday’s fighting, Cambodian soldiers said.

Premier Vows More Talks With Thailand

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
17 October 2008

Khmer audio aired 17 October 2008 (928 KB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 17 October 2008 (928 KB) - Listen (MP3)

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday rejected mediation offers in Cambodia’s border conflict with Thailand, saying the two countries remained friendly despite three firefights between troops near Preah Vihear temple on Wednesday.

Hun Sen also warned an increasingly skittish public not to be “terrified” following the fighting, which set thousands of people to flight from the border to the Cambodian interior.

Malaysia and Indonesia on Friday offered to mediate in the border dispute, which centers around a small strip of disputed border territory near the ancient, cliff-top temple. But Hun Sen said Cambodia remained dedicated to bilateral talks with Thailand.

“We have not yet become enemies,” he told reporters after a weekly meeting with the Council of Ministers.

Some countries were seeking to put the conflict on the agenda of an upcoming meeting between European and Asian leaders, in Beijing, he said.

“Right now, we don’t need that,” Hun Sen said. “We have many mechanisms to solve this conflict, and we have bilateral talks between the foreign ministries and the militaries on both sides. So we will push these mechanisms to resolve the conflict.”

"People should understand that there won't be any large-scale war taking place," he added, seeking to quell worries after a statement from the Cambodian Foreign Ministry warned on Wednesday that provocation from Thailand could lead to wider conflict.

Wednesday’s fighting prompted Cambodians to flee the border in droves, from many different points on the border, including Anglong Veng and O’Smach in Oddar Meanchey province.

Hun Sen’s announcement followed a day of talks between military commanders near Preah Vihear temple Thursday, where both sides agreed to hold joint patrols at Viel Intry, or Eagle Field, one of the sites of Wednesday’s violence.

Hun Sen said Friday more talks between commanders were expected, as well as upcoming meetings between the countries’ foreign ministers.

Ieng Sary To Remain in Tribunal Detention

Ieng Sary

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
17 October 2008

Tribunal judges upheld the pre-trial detention of jailed Khmer Rouge leader Ieng Sary Friday, saying he could be a flight risk and a danger to witnesses and evidence.

Ieng Sary would remain jailed for his own safety and public order, the prevention of influencing witnesses and destroying evidence, and to ensure his presence at trial, judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber said.

Ieng Sary, 83, was arrested in November 2007 and is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role as the foreign minister of the Khmer Rouge.

Defense lawyer Ang Udom told reporters Friday the decision had been unjust for his client, who suffers from heart problems and high blood pressure and should be held under house arrest or hospitalized.

Hong Kim Suon, a lawyer representing civil parties, called the decision fair according to laws and international standards.

Ieng Sary was sentenced to death in absentia by a Vietnamese-backed court following the collapse of the Khmer Rouge. He defected to the government in 1996, following a royal pardon for that crime.

Military Talks on Border Yield No Changes

Thai and Cambodian soldiers wait as their commanders hold talks near Preah Vihear temple Thursday.

By Reporters, VOA Khmer
Original reports from Cambodia
16 October 2008

Khmer audio aired 16 October 2008, by Reaksmey (947 KB) - Download (MP3)
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Khmer audio aired 16 October 2008, by VOA Khmer reporters (2.42 MB) - Download (MP3) Khmer audio aired 16 October 2008, by VOA Khmer reporters (2.42 MB) - Listen (MP3)

Thai and Cambodian soldiers will remain entrenched along the border, following talks among military commanders from both sides that failed to bring about any kind of withdrawal or cooperation Thursday.

Thai and Cambodia military commanders met on the Thai side of the border near Preah Vihear temple in a four-hour meeting Thursday, as the Cambodian death toll rose by one following a brief skirmishes Wednesday.

Ten Thai soldiers who had been surrounded at the Keo Sikha Svara pagoda, west of Preah Vihear temple, were given back their arms and will be allowed to stay in the pagoda, and all other troops will remain in their positions, said Maj. Gen. Srey Douk, commander of Cambodia's Division 12, who participated in the talks Thursday.

Phnom Penh was quiet a day after the fighting, and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told VOA Khmer diplomatic relations on both sides remained good, with hopes of more talks on the border dispute, which has continued since July 15.

Meanwhile, many Thai nationals in Phnom Penh were preparing to return to Thailand.

In Oddar Meanchey province, west of Wednesday's fighting, many people were seen fleeing for safety, though a small percentage stayed behind.

Thai protest marchers call Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat a murderer

Melbourne Herald Sun
Staff writer
October 18, 2008

THOUSAND of anti-government protesters rallied in Bangkok yesterday, distributing leaflets with graphic photos of last week's clashes.

Police hung back by the roadside as some 5000 supporters of the People's Alliance for Democracy marched carrying pictures of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat emblazoned with the word "murderer".

Two people were killed and almost 500 injured on October 7, when police fired tear gas to try to prevent thousands of PAD supporters from blocking parliament.

PAD leader Somsak Kosaisuk said 100,000 books and CDs with photos and accounts of the violence were planned.

"The truth will show why the Government has no legitimacy to run the country," he said..

"The Government thinks that people are their enemy and use the police to kill people."

The PAD claims the ruling People Power Party, elected in December, is a puppet of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, whom they accuse of corruption.

The march occurred a day after powerful army chief General Anupong Paojinda appeared on TV saying that if he were Mr Somchai, he would resign, increasing pressure on the Premier, who took the job only a month ago.

CAMBODIA'S Premier vowed yesterday to improve national defence as his troops prepared to begin joint patrols with Thai soldiers at their disputed border.

The agreement is intended to prevent a repeat of Wednesday's clashes on disputed land near the Preah Vihear temple, a UN heritage site on Cambodian territory and the focus of months of tensions.

Three Cambodian soldiers died. The neighbours have blamed each other for the violence, and a war of words over who owns the disputed land continues.


Thai leader shrugs off call to quit

International Herald Tribune
The Associated Press
Published: October 17, 2008

BANGKOK: Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat of Thailand said Friday that he will stay in power, despite growing calls for his resignation after a deadly confrontation between police and protesters last week.

Somchai made the announcement amid a deepening political crisis that has nearly paralyzed the government and raised fears the army could seize power in its second coup in two years.

"The government cannot just abandon its work and responsibility. We have many major projects coming up," he said in a news conference that was televised nationally.

Somchai took office last month, and he immediately became a target of anti-government protesters because of his relationship to his brother-in-law, the deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

A demonstration against his government turned into a violent confrontation between police and protesters last week that left one demonstrator dead and hundreds of others injured.

Some demonstrators at that protest carried guns, iron rods, slingshots and rocks, and rioters set fire to parked cars, trucks and vans. The police have been accused of firing exploding canisters of tear gas that badly wounded many of the protesters.

Somchai established a special panel to look into the incident and said he expected a report in the next 15 days.

"What happened is not what we intended," he said Friday. "Whatever the result" of the investigation, "the government will accept it. If someone has to take responsibility, we will accept it."

On Thursday, the army chief, General Anupong Paochinda, flanked by the commanders of the other armed forces, said that Somchai should take responsibility for the violence, and he hinted that Somchai should step down.

Thousands of anti-government protesters marched early Friday through the streets of Bangkok, and they made a more explicit call for Somchai to quit.

The demonstrators blocked the streets of a busy business district in the capital, and they handed out compact discs and photos documenting the Oct. 7 clash.

The People's Alliance for Democracy, the group leading the protests, has branded Somchai a puppet of Thaksin. The group's protests against Thaksin led to the 2006 military coup that ousted the former leader for alleged corruption and misuse of power.Border issues unresolved
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen called Friday for more talks with Thailand after a deadly armed clash raised fears the two countries were headed for a full-scale war over a patch of disputed land along their border.

On Wednesday, a gun and rocket battle near the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple left two Cambodian soldiers dead and wounded three others. Seven Thai troops were injured.

A Thai army spokesman on Thursday said military officials from the two sides agreed to hold joint patrols.

But on Friday, General Ke Kim Yan, commander in chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, denied any deal for joint patrols had been reached. He said the two countries had agreed only to maintain their current troop deployments in the disputed area and inform each other about any troop movements in order to prevent further misunderstandings.

Surin Hopes Malaysia Will Help Resolve Thailand-Cambodia Border Dispute

SERDANG, Oct 17 (Bernama) -- Asean Secretary-General Dr Surin Pitsuwan hopes Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim and his counterparts from Indonesia and Singapore will help to resolve the border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia which erupted in deadly clashes this week.

"It is up to him at his level. I'm only the secretary-general. He (Rais) volunteered to do his best and would consult his colleagues.

"I appreciate this very much," he told reporters before delivering a public lecture on 'Asean Integration' at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) in conjunction with its 32nd convocation ceremony, here Friday.

Surin will be awarded an honorary doctorate in economics by UPM during the first session of the convocation tomorrow morning.

The award is for his contributions as an eminent statesman in the Asean region fighting for democratic rights, sustainable development and human safety.

On Wednesday, a gun-and-rocket battle near the 11th-century Preah Vihear border temple killed two Cambodian soldiers and wounded three others. Seven Thai soldiers were also injured.

Surin said Indonesian Foreign Minister Dr Hassan Wirajuda would be doing the same and he had also tried to reach Singapore Foreign Minister George Yong-Boon Yeo regarding the issue.

When asked whether Asean would send a peacemaker, Surin said both sides still wanted to use the bilateral mechanism and Asean should respect that.

"All we can do now is to encourage them to resolve the dispute peacefully through their own bilateral mechanism that had been established a long time ago."

And from what I know, both sides have pledged at the highest level to find a peaceful solution," he said.

He revealed that he also tried to seek help from the other Asean member countries but could not be reached.

"They are further away from the region and may feel no attachment to the issue," he said.

On the global economic crisis, Surin said there should be no panic reaction but precautionary steps must be taken.


Tenuous truce between Thailand and Cambodia along border

Asia News


Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen appeals for dialogue, but military tensions remain high. A patch or border land near the Preah Vihear Temple is at the centre of their dispute. Thailand’s political crisis shows no signs of abating amidst fears of another military coup.

Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Thailand and Cambodia have agreed to an armed truce following a border incident on Wednesday in the area near the Preah Vihear Temple that left two Cambodian soldiers dead and several soldiers wounded on both sides. Against this backdrop Thailand continues to be torn by its domestic crisis amidst fear of a military coup after the prime minister rejected a demand by the army chief to resign.

This morning Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said: “We can still talk to each other and are not yet enemies unwilling to talk to each other at all. [. . .] “There is no large-scale war occurring."

Thai army spokesman Colonel Sansern Kaewkumnerd said military officials from the two sides agreed Thursday to hold joint patrols to reduce tension and the chances of another clash.

However, General Ke Kim Yan, commander in chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, denied that any deal for joint patrols had been reached.

He said the two countries had only agreed to maintain their current troop deployments in the disputed area and inform each other about any troop movements to prevent further misunderstandings.

Thai military command blamed Cambodia for the incident, saying that Thai soldiers encountered their Cambodian counterpart who fired upon them. In reacting to the aggression the Thai side killed two Cambodian soldiers.

As a result of the clash thousands of Cambodian villagers in the area near the Preah Vihear temple have fled their homes amid fears of more violence.

For its part the Thai government has urged its citizens in Cambodia to leave as soon as possible.

Tensions between the two neighbours worsened in August when UNESCO declared Preah Vihear Temple a world heritage site. The place of worship is atop a hill and was awarded to Cambodia by the International Court of Justice in 1962.

The surrounding area (4.5 km2) however is part of disputed territory with great tourist potential.

In Thailand itself the ongoing political crisis shows no sign of being resolved.

Hounded by the opposition that wants his resignation Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat said today that he will not quit and leave office, resisting calls from army Chief Anupong Paochinda to quit.

Yesterday Anupong said that Somchai should resign to take responsibility for violent street battles on 7 October that pitted police against protesters in which two people died and hundreds were injured.

He also said that the armed forces had no plan to directly intervene at the moment.

Thailand asks Cambodia to probe new landmine laying

BANGKOK, Oct 17 (TNA) - Thailand urged Cambodia to investigate the suspected laying of land mines in the Thai-Cambodian border areas following the incident in which two Thai paramilitary rangers stepped on land mines and lost their legs while patrolling deep inside Thai territory on Oct 6.

Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman Thani Thongphakdee said the ministry's East Asia Department director-general Anuson Chinvanno had summoned Ouk Sophoin, Cambodia's charge d'affaires to Thailand, to present an aide memoire regarding the suspected laying of the land mine which injured the Thai rangers on the border inside Thailand's northeastern Si Sa Ket province.

A senior Foreign Ministry official called on the Cambodian government to investigate the suspected use of land mines by Cambodian forces, a move which may have threatened international peace and violated the Ottawa Convention prohibiting the use of land mines along the common border.

Though the Cambodian government had earlier dismissed allegations that they possessed PMN2 land mines, Thailand insisted that the requested probe should be eventually conducted by Cambodia to determine the truth, the ministry's deputy spokesman said. (TNA)

Thai-Cambodia border accord collapses

A Thai-Cambodian joint border patrol agreement came apart Friday as troops from both countries guarded a disputed land patch, military officials said.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen called for more talks with Thailand two days after a military clash killed three Cambodian soldiers and injured two. Seven Thai troops were injured in the clash.

The Thai News Agency said both sides' soldiers remained stationed at their bases and the situation has returned more or less to normal.

Meanwhile, Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat insisted Friday he wouldn't resign, a day after army chief Gen. Anupong Paojinda went on television to encourage the premier, who has been in office one month, to step down.

The prime minister has been under fire over his handling of an Oct. 7 domestic clash left two dead and nearly 500 injured.

The Cambodian-Thai standoff stems from a century-long dispute over an area surrounding the 11th-century Preah Vihear Temple, located between northeastern Thailand's Sisaket province and northern Cambodia's Preah Vihear province.

The International Court of Justice awarded the temple to Cambodia in 1962, citing a 1907 map. But Thailand said the map didn't follow a watershed line that had been agreed to by a bilateral border commission.

Thailand handed over the temple and surrounding area, but hasn't withdrawn from the surrounding land, claiming the border hasn't been officially demarcated.

by United Press International
Publication date: 17 October 2008
Source: UPI-1-20081017-08561200-bc-thailand-cambodia.xml

Cambodia PM plays down border row

Thousands of Cambodians have fled the area

Friday, 17 October 2008


-1970s-1990s: Khmer Rouge guerrillas occupy site
-2001-2002: Thai troops block access over water row
-July 2008: Unesco lists temple as a World Heritage Site
-July 2008: Thai FM quits after court rules he violated constitution for backing Cambodia's Unesco bid
-July 2008: Both sides move troops to temple area
-August 2008: Troops withdrawn after high-level talks
-October 2008: Fighting erupts around temple area

Cambodian PM Hun Sen has played down the possibility of a full-scale war with Thailand, after the two sides exchanged fire across their border.

He said talks remained the best answer to the dispute around Preah Vihear temple, a UN World Heritage site.

Both sides have sought to ease tensions since at least two Cambodian soldiers were killed in Wednesday's crossfire.

They have agreed to a joint border patrol, but failed to reach a deal on reducing troop numbers.
"People should understand that there won't be any large-scale war taking place," Hun Sen told reporters after a weekly cabinet meeting.

See map of disputed area

"I would not call it a war. This was just a minor armed clash," he added.

He said there was no need for outsiders, such as the United Nations or the regional grouping Asean, to get involved in the dispute.

'Death zone'

The military stand-off began in July when Cambodian troops detained three Thai protesters who had entered the site illegally.

More than 1,000 soldiers from both countries moved into the area, digging trenches into the rough terrain around the temple.

Both sides agreed in August to withdraw their personnel, but last week Cambodia claimed that Thai troops had returned, and Hun Sen threatened to turn the area into a "death zone" if they did not withdraw.

The dispute centres on 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) of scrub near the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple.

An international court awarded the temple to Cambodia in 1962, but land surrounding it remains the subject of rival territorial claims.

Disputes between the two countries date back centuries, when the Thai and Khmer monarchs fought each other for territory and power.

Thailand's spats with 'friendly' neighbors

Thai anti-government protesters gather in front of the Lady Mo monument in downtown Nakhonratchasima city, northeast Thailand. Even the protesters follow the tradtion of showing loyalty to the crown; the group carries portraits of Thailand's king and queen. They also wear yellow, the king's color. (Photo/Frank G. Anderson)

UPI Asia

By Frank G. Anderson
Column: Thai Traditions
Published: October 17, 2008

Nakhonratchasima, Thailand — Once again, Thailand finds itself in an embarrassing spat with a “friendly neighboring country.” This time it is Cambodia, regarding Khao Preah Viharn, the 1,000-year-old temple ruin located on the Thai-Khmer border. Soldiers from the two countries fired at each other across the border on Wednesday, leaving two Cambodian soldiers dead and 10 Thais captured.

Conflicting claims have rankled since even before UNESCO granted the site World Heritage status, at the request of Cambodia, earlier this year.

The latest clash follows earlier, repeated, border spats with Laos, and with Burma. It leaves one wondering about the Thai Way of foreign policy.

Over the centuries, in fact, Thailand’s longstanding approach to foreign relations has been to get entangled as much as needed to serve private interests, and to deny entanglement and blame the other side whenever consequences come home to roost.

Also, authorities are quick to cite nationalism when innocents, like villagers living near the borders, are forced to suffer consequences of unwise foreign relations.

Thailand’s foreign policy approach has been painted by the diplomatic corps and the media as a traditionally wise one that shrewdly played off one powerful foreign interest against another – in the Thai Way – to preserve the status quo, or to refrain from rocking Thailand’s socio-political boat. This worked well, on the surface, with older powers like France and England, but broke down in dealing with the United States and much more importantly, with Thailand’s oft-referenced “friendly neighboring countries” – Cambodia, Laos, Burma and Malaysia.

Its failure has also extended to China, but the Thais refuse to recognize this. With the Chinese dominance in business, government, society and economy, it is hard to deny that Thailand has now been colonized. The fact has made itself known time and time again. Even when the Dalai Lama attempted to visit this predominantly Buddhist kingdom, he was not permitted to do so because of Chinese government objections. China has interfered in other Thai domestic issues by forcing the Thai government to stop anti-China demonstrations, most notably by the Falun Gong group, which should be permitted to practice its creed in Thailand, but is not.

With much more powerful countries such as the United States thoroughly undermining their own international strategies and goodwill in the foreign arena, it perhaps seems unfair to cite Thailand’s failures in this regard. Yet it is important to recognize that there is a problem, and a long-term one, in the Thai Way of dealing with others. For Thailand, the costs are much more significant than for powerful countries, particularly in the human rights arena.

When the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush told former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra that Thailand’s reputation in the human rights area was being damaged by his war on drugs, Thaksin shot back, “The United States is a useless friend.” He flippantly continued extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers.

When Thaksin secretly made deals with Cambodia, Burma and Laos for his own interests, the Thai public and media remained obedient in not asking penetrating questions. When the entire world has pointed to Thailand’s repeated historical state-sponsored anti-democratic violence – particularly during Octobers – complaints and appeals have been unanswered, rejected, countered with Chinese-style propaganda, or otherwise construed as interference in Thailand’s domestic affairs.

Both its internal and foreign policies seem to be having short-term and long-term detrimental effects on Thailand’s people, its economy – save for tourism – and its value system. Thailand’s current altercation with Cambodia therefore bears review.

Differences between Thailand and Cambodia are real, longstanding and important. Yet they have often been swept under the carpet, particularly with regard to human rights issues and any semblance of democratic reform, because powerful political personal interests stand in the way of ironing out issues that would benefit the general public. This tends to undermine the images of the nations that the rulers claim to serve. Is there any hope for the millions in this part of the world who are daily subject to powerful whims and wantonness?

It is important for both Thailand and Cambodia that the bureaucracy, police and military be under the control of the civilian government, not subject to the political whims of powerful people. Even with quasi-civilian control, the deep-reaching influence of powerful military and royalist figures forestalls any real change toward international standards of freedom, transparency and good governance.

Nationalist images, the sporting of royalist colors and clothing, citations of loyalty to the kingdom, crown and religion, all proceed on a blind progression into the future. Unless Thailand’s reform process subordinates the military to civilian rule; unless Thailand’s domestic policies change to allow provincial governors to be elected rather than appointed; unless Thailand’s voting process is reformed so that local politicians owe their loyalty to the electorate rather than to their party; Thailand’s future is dark and hardly beneficial to the majority of its people – all of whom deserve better.


(Frank G. Anderson is the Thailand representative of American Citizens Abroad. He was a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer to Thailand from 1965-67, working in community development. A freelance writer and founder of northeast Thailand's first local English language newspaper, the Korat Post – – he has spent over eight years in Thailand "embedded" with the local media. He has an MBA in information management and an associate degree in construction technology. ©Copyright Frank G. Anderson.)

Thailand and Cambodia Agree to Cool Things Off

Asia Sentinel

Written by Larry Jagan
Friday, 17 October 2008

As a squabble over a temple erupts into a shooting war, the two sides start to see reason

Talks between Thailand and Cambodia appear to be easing mounting tensions along their common border which erupted into fighting earlier this week as the two countries pull back from a dangerous brink.

With political agendas dominating strategy on both sides of the Thai-Cambodia border, the two countries appeared to be on the verge of war Wednesday over the disputed ancient Preah Vihear temple after soldiers exchanged fire, leaving at least two combatants dead and several others wounded.

Although the situation remains tense, with Cambodian and Thai soldiers suspiciously watching each other, fears of an all-out war have calmed substantially following talks Thursday, and with conciliatory comments from both governments, in contrast to their belligerent posturing earlier.

"People should understand that there won't be any large-scale war taking place," Cambodia's prime minister, Hun Sen told reporters in Phnom Penh Friday after the regular weekly cabinet meeting. "People living near the border have nothing to worry about."

After their earlier exchanges, threatening to fight to the bitter end, both Cambodia and Thailand now seem prepared to try to negotiate a way out of the impasse. "We have re-affirmed our stance to exercise restraint and put the disagreement on the table," the Thai foreign ministry spokesman, Tharit Charungvat, told journalists Thursday after the border meeting between the two countries. "With the world economic crisis knocking on our door, it makes little sense for two neighbors to be waging war," he added.

"We will use negotiation as the means to solve the problem," Thailand's Prime Minister, Somchai Wongsawat, promised Thursday, playing down the previous day’s skirmish. "Though there was a clash yesterday, it was not a major one," he said.

The talks so far have achieved little. The two sides have agreed to remain where they are and have conducted joint patrols in the area. "We understood each other," said Cambodia’s Defence Minister Tea Banh. "We cannot patrol individually because it could lead to a misunderstanding," he added.

So far so good: "It is a good sign that military officials of both sides have an opportunity to talk with each other. It is not worrying now," Somchai told journalists in Bangkok after the border meeting. "Official-level talks will finally lead to a further meeting of top military commanders," he said.

There have been frequent attempts to negotiate a settlement in the past three months, since hostilities flared over the temple. This time both sides realize that their drumbeating rhetoric could easily lead to an unwanted war in which both countries have much to lose, economically and politically — but neither government can be see to be backing down.

"The real crisis is over, and both sides are now serious about returning to the table to talk the issue through," Kavi Chongkittavorn, the English-language daily newspaper the Nation’s senior political editor said in an interview.

For their part, the Cambodians are keen to internationalize the issue, and are preparing to raise the alleged Thai incursion before the United Nations Security Council in New York, according to Cambodian government officials. Since the dispute over the temple threatened bilateral relations and erupt into violence three months ago, Phnom Penh has asked the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations to mediate. Thailand has consistently rejected these moves, insisting that the issue can only be resolved bilaterally.

Both Thailand and Cambodia have claimed the 11th century Hindu temple as theirs for decades. Legally the shrine belongs to Cambodia, though there are competing claims as much of the territory around the site remains disputed. The dispute has dogged relations between the two countries for centuries, according to Sumet Jumsai na Ayudhaya, a Thai historian and architectural expert. "The ownership of the temple is based on a French map drawn in 1904, which inexplicably excluded the archeological site from the Thai side," he said in an interview.

The French then were Cambodia’s colonial rulers. It was this map that provided the basis for the International Court of Justice’s judgment in Cambodia’s favor. Thailand of course never accepted the court’s verdict and has continued to challenge the map’s validity.

The current hostilities erupted into violence in July while the UN’s cultural agency, UNESCO was considering Phnom Penh’s application to make Preah Vihear a World heritage site. Originally the besieged Thai government, then led by Samak Sundaravej, endorsed the application, but Thailand’s complicated and tumultuous political situation got in the way. The government withdrew its support after the opposition Democrats and anti-government protestors occupying Government House accused the Peoples Power Party of selling out Thai interests and territory in return for business concessions in the nearby area to the former Thai Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, and a leading figure behind the PPP.

The Constitutional Court ruled that the Thai government’s formal endorsement of Cambodia's plans for the temple were unconstitutional. The foreign minister was then forced to resign after the government survived a no-confidence motion.

"It’s this nationalistic fervor on the part of the protestors that means the government cannot appear to be weak," said the Nation’s Kavi Chongkittavorn. "It’s a classic case of international affairs becoming a domestic issue. If mishandled, it’s a certain recipe for disaster."

Thousands of celebrating Cambodians poured onto the streets of Phnom Penh in July when UNESCO made the temple a World Heritage site – egged on by the Cambodian government and Prime Minister Hun Sen in particular, who described the decision "a new source of pride for the people of Cambodia". UNESCO also referred to the French colonial map in its verdict.Previously Thailand had blocked Cambodia's efforts to list Preah Vihear on the grounds that a 4.6-square-kilometer stretch of land around the temple compound was still disputed. It is this piece of land, not covered by the recent ruling, where the two countries’ forces are still facing off and where the fighting broke out earlier this week.

The war of words escalated out of control earlier this week Hun Sen surprisingly upped the stakes and issued an ultimatum to Thailand to withdraw some 80 soldiers stationed on a portion of the temple area that is in dispute. "We will not allow Thai troops to invade this area, whatever the cost," Hun Sen said on Tuesday. "I would like to be clear about this. It is a life-or-death battle zone."

The Thai army chief instructed his troops to stand fast and resist any Cambodian invasion into Thai territory. Both sides rushed extra reinforcements, according to eye-witnesses on either side of the border. Hun Sen ordered the Thais to withdraw from the disputed area by noon Wednesday or face the consequences. But his noon deadline passed – with Cambodia claiming that the Thais troops had retreated and Thailand insisting nothing of the sort. Tensions mounted continued to mount until eventually they turned into violence later in the day.

This wasn’t the first time. Earlier this month one Cambodian and two Thais were reportedly wounded in an exchange of fire. A few days later, on 6th October, two Thai soldiers lost their legs when their patrol stepped on landmines in the area.

Now the hope is that further talks can defuse the situation along the border, and at least insure it doesn’t erupt into more into more violence.

But both governments have their specific political agendas. Thailand’s besieged government has little room to maneuver, lest the protestors on the street again accuse them of being traitors. Hun Sen is using the situation to strengthen his hand at home and establish his credentials as a regional leader.

"Hun Sen is flexing his muscles," Kavi Chongkittavorn said. "He is by far the longest-serving leader in Asean and wants to assert his authority as the senior statesman in the region."Both countries are economically dependent on each other – and already the dispute is beginning to bite. Thai exports to Cambodia have dipped dramatically since the dispute re-emerged three months ago and it may be that economic matters in the end may encourage cooler heads.

"Common sense is likely to prevail, as both countries know they have more to lose economically than they can gain politically if the conflict escalates further," a Thai diplomat told Asia Sentinel, but declined to be identified.

But in a further twist to the conflict, Thai hopes to turn the tables on Cambodia by taking the case of the Thai troops injured in the mines explosion a month ago to the UN.

"Thailand plans to complain to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon about land-mines planted by Cambodia on Thai territory," according to a senior Thai diplomat, Chakarin Chayabongse. "This is a serious violation of the 1997 Ottawa mine ban treaty which both Thailand and Cambodia have signed," he said. The two mines involved are Russian-made, and will be presented to the UN to support their complaint.

Thousands of mines are strewn along the border area, a legacy of decades of conflict in Cambodia. The UN and other international organizations have been conducting mine-clearing operations through Cambodia for more than a decade, though experts believe only a fraction of the mines have been removed.

Thailand believes these mines though were recently planted by Cambodian military personnel near the disputed land around the temple. The route taken by the Thai soldiers was believed to have been cleared. Villagers constantly use it to get to their farms, according to Thai foreign ministry officials.

Cambodia has rejected the Thai claims. "Cambodia reaffirms the fact that landmines in this border area are remnants of almost three decades of war," according to a press statement issued by the Cambodian foreign ministry. The Thai troops must have stepped on one of these mines left over from the civil war, he added. Cambodia adheres to international treaties banning land-mines, the statement insisted.

So while talks between the two countries may have resumed, there is little evidence that the dispute will be solved anytime soon. There is no doubt that the whole issue of Preah Vihear is one whole minefield ready to erupt again at anytime.