Thailand Should Not Fear or Avoid Multi-lateral Mediation to Resolve Preah Vihear Conflict
The Un Security Council, by calling for a “permanent ceasefire” between Thailand and Cambodia after a border dispute erupted into a small war last week around a Hindu temple, did just that.
Thus, irrespective of how the Thai government and media want to spin this issue, it is clear and evident, that the United Nations has taken a serious view of the conflict created by Thailand, and has given ASEAN, which convenes a meeting on 22 February, to have the first go at conflict mediation.
Last Sunday, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said his foreign minister would insist that the crisis be settled on a bilateral basis without outside intervention.
“Cambodia is calling for [intervention by] a third country, the UN and peacekeeping forces. Thailand will call for a return to bilateral talks on border conflict” he said.
The prime minister has laid the blame for the crisis on Unesco’s decision to declare the temple ruins, the most celebrated example of ancient Khmer architecture outside of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, a world heritage site even though the land around it is supposedly disputed because of Thailand’s insistence on its own interpretation and unilateral, secret and internationally unrecognized map.
At the 35th meeting of the World Heritage Committee in July, Cambodia will be pushing for its Preah Vihear management plan, which also covers the area claimed by both countries.
For peace to prevail and for the ancient temple to be treated like a cultural heritage site in a sustainable manner, the international community should pay attention to Cambodia’s plea for multi-lateral mediation and reject outright, Thailand’s call for the Preah Vihear temple to be delisted or else Thailand will withdraw from Unesco.
These threats should not be entertained or even given any consideration by the international community and or the UNESCO as this is tantamount to blackmail and intimidation on the international community to abstain from intervening in the dispute, thus giving Thailand, the opportunity to annex the temple and claim it as its own.
This statement speaks of belligerent and deranged premier who has isolated or blinded by the spin pulled by his advisors and the pressure mounted on him by his one time allies, the PAD. The PAD is pushing for the military option.
And, when one side is pushing for a military option and at the same time, beefing up its armed forced on the conflict zone, not only with troops but also with heavy weaponry, the situation has become inherently dangerous and sufficient to precipitate an all out war with Cambodia.
At present, many see the issues related to Preah Vihear through the prism of territorial dispute, but they need to keep the borderline and world heritage issues separate. This, the Thais have failed miserably at doing.
If one follows the Thai press, like all of them-it is obviously pro-Thai to the maximum-as they say “The Truth is the first thing that gets killed in war.”
The conflict has led to the point that Cambodia asked for UN peace keeping forces and Thailand saying the matter is between Thailand and Cambodia.
Then Cambodia wants outside mediation, but Thailand wants bilateral or 2 way talks.
“With mediation, the problem becomes more complex,” said the Thai prime minister, Abhisit.
With those attitudes, the matter reached the UN’s Security Council. But again, the old saying on how the truth dies in war.
Even with pictures of Thai bull-dozers going about making a road in the Thai Cambodian disputed territory that sparked this series of clashes between Thailand and Cambodia-Thailand the intransigent Thai army claimed that Cambodia started the attack.
“Thailand has witness to the UN Security Council that Cambodia started the war,” said many Thai press like Thai Rath.
So the Thai press, like the True TV-just said this morning-right there after the UN Security Council meet that “UN calls for bilateral talks” meaning between Thailand and Cambodia.
But then BBC, a global level media outfit, just reported that the UN Security Council told ASEAN to mediate the Thai and Cambodia talks.
So what is it, bilateral like the Thai press says or is it ASEAN mediation being multilateral?
And what now? Cambodia said it will not talk bilateral with Thailand and Thailand says it will only talk with Cambodia bilaterally.
To top it off, the Thai prime minister, Abhisit, said earlier, quote: “No outside mediation needed.”
Thailand is a much larger country than Cambodia, economic wise, military wise, and population wise.
By bringing in such body as the UN or ASEAN-that takes away Thailand’s advantage-and place the mediation and negotiation in the hands of a body like the UN or ASEAN-which stands for equitable and on the same level solution seeking.
Not a single Thai press dares to ask just a simple question, and that is, if the Thai security apparatus is right-why would Prime Minister Hun Sen, be asking for UN and EU peace keeping forces on its border with Thailand?
The following is from BBC:
The UN Security Council has urged a permanent ceasefire between Cambodia and Thailand after deadly clashes in their disputed border area this month.
Four days of fighting left eight dead, displaced thousands and caused some damage to the World Heritage-listed Preah Vihear temple.
The council also backed mediation efforts by Asean, the regional grouping of south-east Asian nations.
The council’s president said there was “great concern” over the clashes.
Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti was speaking after after closed-door talks with the foreign ministers of Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia.
Thailand opposes UN mediation, saying it can settled by the two states.
But Cambodia has described itself as being at war with Thailand and has suggested the UN send peacekeepers to the disputed area.
The council, Ms Viotti said, “called on the two sides to display maximum restraint and avoid any action that may aggravate the situation”.
Indonesia, as the current president of Asean, has been leading mediation efforts.
In recent days, the guns have fallen quiet, but the situation at the border between the two countries remains extremely tense, the BBC”s Rachel Harvey reports.
The two heavily armed militaries are ranged against each other across a 4.6-sq km (1130 acres) stretch of disputed land. Accordingly, the presence of a third Party to mediate and to observe the buffer zone as requested by Cambodian Prime Minister is a Must since it will build a transparent process and mutual confidence, and more importantly to stop once and for all the trading of who instigates the fighting first. Now, the Ball is in the court of Thailand and the Latter should not be afraid of third Party if they do have the goodwill and true intention to build a lasting peace and good neighbor with Cambodia.
By T. Mohan, a long term resident of Cambodia and political analyst
(The comments are solely the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Royal Government of Cambodia.)
Cambodia To Ask for ASEAN Observers for the Ceasefire
Phnom Penh, February 17, 2011 AKP – Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister H.E. Hor Namhong said during the upcoming ASEAN foreign ministers scheduled to be held on Feb. 22 in Jakarta, he will request ASEAN observers to control the ceasefire at Cambodian-Thai border.
From 21:00 on Feb. 15 to 05:00 on Feb. 16, 2011, Thai armed forces violated the resolution of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on 14 February 2011, by firing many grenades and numerous rounds of 81 mm mortars and machine guns into Phnom Trap area located approximately 1,600 meters from the border, in the vicinity of the Temple of Preah Vihear.
“I will also request the presence of a representative of ASEAN or of the chair of ASEAN in all Cambodia-Thailand discussions, even in the Joint Border Commission’s meeting,” H.E. Hor Namhong said yesterday at Phnom Penh International Airport upon his return from the UNSC’s meeting on Cambodia-Thailand border dispute in New York.
“Bilateral negotiations from 2008 to 2010 have failed. We have reached some agreements, but they have not been implemented because Thailand relied on pretext of waiting for the approval from its Parliament,” he explained, stressing that in addition, Thailand conducted in early February a war of aggression against Cambodia.
The Cambodian deputy prime minister considered the UNSC’s meeting as a great success for Cambodia, stressing that the country achieved its objectives of having the third party, especially ASEAN, in the discussion on border conflict with Thailand, and of revealing Thailand’s war of aggression against Cambodia.
In its press statement, the UNSC urged the two parties – Cambodia and Thailand – to establish a permanent ceasefire and it supported the active efforts of ASEAN in this matter, he recalled.
H.E. Hor Namhong further underlined Cambodia’s stance not to reject any negotiation with the Thai side. Thailand has proposed a Joint Border Commission’s meeting in late February, but we replied that the meeting could not be done before the UNSC’s meeting. However, Thai media has even reported that Cambodia wrote a letter to reject the meeting. “It’s all lies,” he said. –AKP
Article in Khmer by CHIM Nary
Article in English by SOKMOM Nimul
DPM Sok An Informs Canadian Investors about Cambodia’s Investment Opportunity
Phnom Penh, February 17, 2011 AKP – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers H.E. Sok An told a group of 20 Canadian investors on Tuesday that Cambodia has potentiality of investment in the areas of extractive and agro-industry, garments as well as tourism sector.
He said that Cambodia has offshore and onshore oil concession blocs. As many of these are already being explored by foreign companies, foreign investors can see this as another investment opportunity, according to the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Office of the Council of Ministers.
The Cambodian deputy prime minister stressed that Cambodia’s exports have been enhanced by U.S.-based Most Favored Nation (MFN) trade status as well as quota free for export to China and EU.
More than 250 garment factories have been operating in the country, with an employment of more than 300,000 workers. Cambodia also has vast areas of red soil, which is suitable for rubber plantations, he said.
H.E. Sok An also encouraged Canadian investors to invest in Cambodia’s rice processing plants to improve the quality of rice for exports.
Agriculture is Cambodia’s biggest sector, which absorbs the country’s largest employment given the fact that more than 80 percent of the country’s population lived in the countryside. “We have lots of rice surplus. Our farmers, who live near the borders, sell the crop at low price to Vietnam and Thailand,” he said.
He further said that Cambodia, which is rich in cultural heritage of more than 800 ancient temples, has high potentiality in tourism sector.
Cambodia received more than 2.7 million tourists last year and expects a 15 percent increase per year.
In response, Canada’s ambassador Ron Hoffmann, who led the group, said: “We are keen to do businesses in Cambodia.” The visiting group represents various sectors: manufacturer of innovation transportation, pipeline and fitting manufacturers as well as solution provider, export development Canada, environmental consulting company, equity investment, telecommunication and financial service as well as consulting firms, engineering and the mining companies.
Deputy Prime Minister Sok An also told the group that Cambodia is expected to produce her first oil in late 2012 from offshore Block A, where the U.S. Chevron Texaco has found potential for production of crude oil and natural gas.
He said that Thailand is violating the International Court of Justice (ICJ) decision which ruled in 1962 that: the Temple of Preah Vihear is situated in territory under the sovereignty of Cambodia.
The Court found that Thailand is under obligation to withdraw any military or police forces, or other guards or keepers, stationed by her at the Temple, or in its vicinity on Cambodian territory.
Thailand is under an obligation to restore to Cambodia any objects of the kind specified in the Cambodia’s fifth submission which may, since the date of the occupation of the Temple by Thailand in 1954, have been removed from the Temple or the Temple area by the Thai authority, said ICJ’s Judgment. –AKP
Statement: Secretariat General of the National Committee for the World Heritage
Phnom Penh, February 18, 2011, AKP–Secretariat General of the National Committee for the World Heritage:
Open Letter to Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Pyromya
Phnom Penh, February 18, 2011, AKP–Open Letter to Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Pyromya:
Comment: Thailand’s Intransigence and refusal for Permanent Ceasefire Means it is on War Footing
Phnom Penh, February 18, 2011, AKP-
Phnom Penh, February 17, 2011 AKP – Phnom Penh has asked the UN to ensure a ‘permanent cease-fire’ at Preah Vihear area specially the Temple of Preah Vihear which was listed as a World Heritage Site in 2008.