By THE NATION
Published on January 28, 2011
Abhisit talks tough after PAD raises issue during protest outside his office
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday that Cambodia had no right to rise its national flag over the disputed border area adjacent to the Preah Vihear Temple.
"If there is such flag, it needs to be taken down," Abhisit told reporters, but noted that he did not know where exactly this flag has been raised.
Abhisit made the comment after the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) raised the issue while protesting outside the Prime Minister's Office.
Cambodia agreed earlier to removed two stone tablets at Wat Keo Sekha Kirisvara, which indicated that the area belonged to Cambodia and had been invaded by Thai troops in 2008
Abhisit said Cambodia did not have the right to declare sovereignty in the area, because Thailand was also claiming the land.
The two countries have been at loggerheads over areas adjacent to Preah Vihaer for long time, though the boundary in the temple's vicinity has not yet been demarcated.
Preah Vihear, as ruled by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 1962, is situated in a territory under the sovereignty of Cambodia, but Thailand is arguing that it owns the 4.6 square kilometres area surrounding the temple, and the land the stone ruins are standing on.
Cambodia, meanwhile, claims that the 1:200000-scale map made by France showed that the Preah Vihear and its vicinity were on the Cambodian side. The ICJ used this map for its ruling.
The PAD is mounting pressure on Abhisit's government, demanding that it scrap the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on land-boundary demarcation signed with Cambodia since 2000 and use force to evict the Cambodian community living in the area.
The group first got angry when Phnom Penh managed to get a World Heritage Site inscription for the temple in 2008. The group, along with Abhisit as opposition leader, accused the then-government of Samak Sundaravej of supporting Cambodia's application for the status.
When Abhisit took office with PAD's blessings in late 2008, he maintained his position to oppose Cambodia over inscription. He stood strong against Preah Vihear's management plan proposed by Phnom Penh on grounds that the conflict over the temple's surrounding area had not yet been settled.
Abhisit told reporters yesterday that the ongoing conflict with Cambodia would be a good excuse for him to continue blocking the Preah Vihear management plan.
However, his plans to settle the boundary disputes are different from those of the PAD. He believes that the joint-boundary mechanism set up in accordance with the 2000 MoU could work to end the problem. The PAD said the MoU, which was signed under the Democrat-led government with Chuan Leekpai at the reins, would never work because it recognised the French map that indicated the area belonged to Cambodia.