Wednesday, 2 December 2009

PM shows his indifference to Hun Sen's comments

Published: 1/12/2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has feigned indifference to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's clear animosity to his remaining in office.

Mr Abhisit said he was not aware of reports that Mr Hun Sen was not happy with him and Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, and that the Cambodian government would not ask for their assistance.

"I believe the problem has arisen because someone could be trying to instigate a situation," the prime minister said.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, who is in charge of security affairs, said the Thai-Cambodia situation had improved to some extent, but the government had to be strong and calm after being criticised by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The government had to be very cautious about its ties with neighbouring countries, Mr Suthep said.

"Don't get stuck on Prime Minister Hun Sen's words. The government has been doing well so far and the problem will not spread to include other Asean member states," he said.

He repeated that the frontier with Cambodia will not be closed because the government cares about the people living along the border.

The decision to allow Cambodia to borrow 1.4 billion baht to build roads along the border will also not be affected, Mr Suthep said.

Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said the government is still willing to cooperate with the Cambodian government in various projects and prefers a peaceful approach to settling any differences.

"But it will take time to restore Thai-Cambodian relations," he said.

Asked about Prime Minister Hun Sen's comment that Cambodia would see no happiness as long as Mr Abhisit and Mr Kasit remain in office, Mr Panitan said the ties between Thailand and Cambodia were about ensuring the best interests of the two countries, not just the interests of one person.

"I believe people from the two countries have a good understanding of the situation," he said.

On the mother of alleged Thai spy Sivarak Chutipong who visited Puea Thai Party headquarters on Monday to seek help for her son because she feels that the government is too slow in providing assistance, Mr Panithan said the government is not upset by her move.

The Foreign Ministry had to follow international legal procedure in handling the case, Mr Panithan said.

He affirmed that the government is trying its best to help Mr Sivarak -- by seeking permission for the mother to visit her son in prison and in finding a lawyer to represent him.

The government was happy that other parties were willing to provide help for him, but this should not be used as a political hammer to benefit any particular political party, he said.

He did not agree the government would lose face if the opposition party can get Mr Sivarak out of jail.

Meanwhile, Gen Panlop Pinmanee, former deputy director of Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) and a member of the opposition Puea Thai Party, has warned the diplomatic dispute between Thailand and Cambodia could escalate to war if the government fails to take action to ease the tension.

Gen Panlop said the latest criticism of Mr Abhisit and Mr Kasit by Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen clearly shows that Phnom Penh was not happy with the premier, Mr Kasit and the Democrat Party.

“The critical rift between the two countries stems from Mr Kasit, who took the stage at an antigovernment rally by the People’s Alliance for Democracy and strongly criticised Hun Sen late last year,'' he said.

“The government should not have had quarreled with our neighbour. Now it's up to Mr Abhisit to find ways to quickly end the dispute.

“If the premier takes no action and lets the diplomatic row continue, there could be a war between Thailand and Cambodia,” Gen Panlop said.

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