Monday, 9 November 2009

Thaksin to visit Phnom Penh

By The Nation, Agencies
November 9, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday that fugitive former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra would visit Phnom Penh on Thursday to give a lecture on economic matters.

Hun Sen, who has appointed Thaksin as his economic adviser, told a news conference at Phnom Penh airport that Thaksin will address a group of 300 Cambodians.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said he would seek Thaksin's extradition as soon as the fugitive former Prime Minister landed in Cambodia.

While relationship between the two neighbouring countries has been tense after Hun Sen's appointment of Thaksin as his economic adviser, the Cambodian said yesterday that the situation on the border with Thailand was calm. He also said he had decided to pull out special troops from the area near Preah Vihear Temple within a week.

However, Hun Sen said Thailand should not close the border as it would more hurt Thai businesses more than Cambodians.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Abhisit on his weekly programme yesterday encouraged Thais to express dissatisfaction over the Cambodian decision to appoint Thaksin an economic adviser and over criticism of the Thai justice system.

"Today, I want to invite all Thais to show unity and take a stand that we want to be and have a good neighbour. It must be based on the expression of mutual sincerity and respect," he said. "I think no Thai wants to see Thailand being taken advantage of. [Thais] don't want to see Thailand discredited by any other country."

Thaksin posted on a Twitter message that he would talk on the issue in his online radio programme tomorrow.

"You might be wondering why I'm silent on Cambodia. I say I'll let the government and the Foreign Ministry to be extremely crazy. And I'll talk on radio on November 10," he said.

Democrat MPs held a press conference supporting Abhisit's request. However, Bhum Jai Thai spokesman Supachai Jaisamut said the government should be careful not to hurt businesses of Thai investors in Cambodia.

"We can say the government's measures so far have been enough to teach Cambodia a lesson while Abhisit has enjoyed critical support. But to prevent more rifts both the Thai and Cambodian governments should reduce their bias and talk for the sake of their countries. For example, the two countries had lost the chance to enjoy joint benefits from tourism and cultural promotion while arguing on who occupied the overlapping areas.

Abhisit said during the programme, "I want to tell Thais who used to visit Cambodia just for gambling, please stop for now to show that if [Cambodia] wants all business to return to normal, the Cambodian government should treat us appropriately in terms of mutual sincerity and respect."

However, about 60 per cent of casinos in Cambodia are owned by Thais.

"The Cambodian statement insisted that Cambodia would not proceed with this [Thaksin's extradition] and criticised both Thai politics, and most importantly the Thai justice system questioning issues related to the court, fairness. I think Thailand and Thai people cannot accept this. All of this is not about political conflicts within our country but this is what all of us must assert on the legitimacy and dignity of our core institution, which is the justice system," Abhisit said.

Abhisit said his government had treated Thai-Cambodian conflicts carefully. Although it decided to lower bilateral relationship by recalling the ambassador, it was keeping in mind not to hurt people-to-people relations and border trade, and avoid tension or violence along the border. He said the conflict would not hurt regional cooperation such as Asean and Mekong countries.

Abhisit said general relations between Thailand and Cambodia are in good condition with cooperation on many issues. Territorial disputes such as Preah Vihear Temple as well as overlapping land and maritime areas were considered normal for neighbouring countries and are dealt with through peaceful diplomatic negotiations. He cited road construction as an example of Thailand's support for Cambodia and cooperation among Asean countries. Abhisit also said Hun Sen had always said to him in the past 10 months that he would not let his relationship with fugitive former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra deteriorate or undermine the two countries' relationship.

Warning Cambodia of being misinformed, Abhisit said he had asked his Cambodian counterpart to reconsider the decision to appoint Thaksin an adviser. He said the appointment could be unfair to Thailand as Thaksin must have known lots of information. He added that the appointment of Thaksin would force Thailand to reconsider the framework of negotiation on the maritime natural resources benefit sharing.

Hun Sen warns any move to close borders would hurt Thai businesses more.

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