BANGKOK, Jan 29 -- Activists of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) encamped near Thailand's Government House for the fifth day Saturday stressed their demands that the government must take action to resolve the dispute over an ancient temple which sits on the border with Cambodia, as well as scrapping three agreements signed by the two countries, threatening that the administration of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva must consider its future if it fails to resolve the problem.
The ‘Yellow Shirt’ activists of the PAD continued to occupy Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue Saturday afternoon with no sign that they would disperse unless Thailand withdraws from the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, revoke three memorandums of understanding signed by Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission (JBC), and eject Cambodian soldiers and villagers in border areas the group claims belong to Thailand.
The protesters have become enfuriated when a Cambodian national flag was flying above the entrance of Kaew Sikha Khiri Sawara temple near historic Preah Vihear temple, charging that the former is situated well within Thai territory.
Praising the Thai army for conducting an exercise near the border recently, PAD spokesman Panthep Puapongphan told a press conference that two days had passed and the Thai government is still unable to remove the Cambodian national flag in front of the temple while the Cambodian government insists that it would not do so.
“The prime minister must display his responsibility for what has happened and explain [to the public] on ways to resolve the problem,” Mr Panthep said.
He also said two out of seven Thais who were arrested by Cambodian soldiers on charges of violating Cambodian territory on Dec 29 and are due to appear for a court trial Tuesday must also be freed because all were apprehended in Thai territory.
Prime Minister Abhisit, his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban and Foreign Affairs Minister Kasit Piromya must take responsibility for the situation and consider their political futures if the Thai government accepts the Cambodian court verdict, Mr Panthep said.
Accompanied by two other PAD core leaders, retired Maj Gen Chamlong Srimuang and Praphan Koonmee, Mr Panthep said the government would make a big mistake if they disperse the PAD demonstration by force.
Meanwhile, Mr Abhisit, now attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, said in a telephone interview that the border problem with Cambodia must be carried out by peaceful manner, especially as both countries are members of ASEAN --the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-- and his government must uphold the country’s benefits as most important.
“The PAD has every right to make demands but the government must uphold the country’s benefits as its priority,” Mr Abhisit said. “What the government has done would definitely receive support from the majority of the people in the country.” (MCOT online news)