Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Navy slams Chavalit for 'distorting, politicising' spat

Published: 24/11/2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

The navy has slammed Puea Thai Party chairman Chavalit Yongchaiyudh for trying to "distort and politicise" the spat between Thailand and Cambodia.

The criticism by navy spokesman Prachachart Srisawat followed Gen Chavalit's statement that Cambodia had closed its waterways at the Cambodian province of Koh Kong , opposite Trat.

The navy and the government said Gen Chavalit's account was false. Gen Chavalit said he did not know why Cambodia closed the waterways but it was probably because there was conflict in the area or an illegal action had been committed.

But the navy spokesman said Cambodia was reviewing and regulating fishing concessions for Thai fishermen after the newly-appointed Koh Kong governor had scrapped the concession system initiated by his predecessor, Yuth Pouthang.

The move forced about 120 Thai fishing trawlers to stay anchored in port in Trat.

However, Capt Prachachart said Cambodia's regulating and reviewing of the new concession system was expected to be finished in a few days and the Thai trawlers could then resume operations.

The navy spokesman did not name the new Koh Kong governor. The Phnom Penh Post said on its website that Yuth Pouthang, who had been in the post for more than 10 years, was replaced by Bun Lert on Nov12.

Acting government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn confirmed checks had found Cambodia did not close the waterways.

He insisted the situation at Koh Kong had nothing to do with the Thai-Cambodian row.

The source said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen wanted to adjust political game plans at Koh Kong, a bustling Cambodian border town.

The source said Hun Sen felt the former Koh Kong governor had been in the post for too long and had developed too close relations with Thais, particularly Democrat MPs in the area.

The source said Hun Sen also wanted the new governor to regulate Koh Kong to facilitate an investment plan by ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his business partners from the Middle East in order to develop Koh Kong into an entertainment complex.

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