U.S. POW/MIA Mission in Cambodia
Phnom Penh, February 21, 2011 AKP – General Pol Saroeun, commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), on Feb. 18 met with the U.S. Major General Stephen D. Tom of the Joint POW/MIA (Prisoner of War/Missing In Action) Accounting Command to reflect and plan for the continuing Cambodia-U.S. collaboration in searching the remains of American soldiers missing in the war during the 1970s.
Talking to General Pol Saroeun at the RCAF Headquarters in Phnom Penh, Major General Stephen D. Tom appreciated the good facilitation from the Cambodian side in POW/MIA mission.
The recent bone searching activities have been done primarily at Tang Island and other prioritized areas.
General Pol Saroeun welcomed and showed his commitment to continue all necessary collaboration with the American counterpart, despite the emerging border dispute between Cambodia and Thailand.
Cambodia is providing similar support to Vietnam to search the remains of its troops who had scarified their lives in Cambodia. –AKP
By MOM Chan Dara Soleil
Partnership between National Libraries of Cambodia and France
Phnom Penh, February 21, 2011 AKP – The National Libraries of Cambodia and France on Feb. 18 officially launched an old-book exhibition at the Phnom Penh-situated National Library of Cambodia with the presence of the Secretary of State at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts H.E. Thai Noraksatya and French Ambassador to Cambodia H.E. Christian Connan and the heads of the two partner National Libraries.
Entitled ‘Memorable Writings of Cambodia’, the one-month exhibition made avail of free entry for the public from Feb. 18 onward. A wide range of writings dated back to around 100 years ago (between 1892 and 1993), both in Khmer and French, can be enjoyed at the Cambodia’s oldest library.
Along with the launch of the showcasing, Cambodian National Library Director Khlot Vibolla and National Library of France President Bruno Racine signed a three-year cooperation agreement between the two major Francophone institutions, wherein the French counterpart will assist the digitization of key publications in the Cambodian National Library.
To date, there are approximately 23 thousand publications in French. H.E. Thai Noraksatya expressed his optimism that the book exhibition and the said France’s assistance to the Cambodian National Library will enhance the use of French in Cambodia.
Protection and preservation of old publications and culture, as said H.E. Christian Connan, play a vital role in benefiting the humanity. However, the preservation needs to take new technological form both for now and the future. –AKP
By MOM Chan Dara Soleil
Meak Bochea Day Celebrated at Oudong Mount in Kandal Province
Phnom Penh, February 21, 2011 AKP – Annual Meak Bochea Day was celebrated at Phnom Preah Reachtroap (Oudong Mount) in Ponhea Leu district, Kandal province on Feb.18, where a stupa of Buddha’s relics is located.
The celebration, presided over by Deputy Prime Minister and National Defense Minister H.E. Tea Banh, was attended by high-ranking officials and foreign ambassadors to Cambodia, with the participation of laymen and laywomen.
Meanwhile, many Buddhist monks were invited to join the celebration for blessing.
Cambodia, as well as other Buddhism-practicing countries, holds the event annually. –AKP
Commentary: ASEAN Must Approve a Roadmap for Definitive and Permanent Ceasefire Mandated by UNSC
Phnom Penh, February 21, 2011, AKP – On the diplomatic battlefield, Cambodia has succeeded in calling for the UNSC’s urgent meeting on 14 February in New York, by which the UNSC’s Statement called for a permanent ceasefire between Cambodia and Thailand, and expressed support for ASEAN’s active efforts in this matter and encouraged the parties to continue to cooperate with the organization in this regard.
Diplomatically, the ball has already been passed to ASEAN, which is a new challenge for ASEAN to tackle. As mandated by the UNSC, ASEAN must have a strong volition to directly participate and solve this complicated issue. Based on the spirit of the UNSC’s Statement, it is crystal clear that both parties “Cambodia and Thailand” plus a “third party” can it be ASEAN or chairman of ASEAN are engaged in every round of the talk relating to the border dispute. For such a talk, all parties must be in the glass of talk, simply put, a talk in the light, not in the dark room, which is transparency for all outsiders to verify peace on one hand and to monitor whether who aggressed who on the other hand.
On 17 February 2011 Samdech Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the kingdom of Cambodia is strongly committed to building a permanent ceasefire by setting out the four point-ceasefire, which must be signed by Thailand, and co-signed by ASEAN Members or ASEAN Chair in the ASEAN meeting which set to be held on 22 February 2011 in Indonesia. But it is still far to be clear whether Cambodian Prime Minister’s ceasefire deal will prevail in the next meeting in Jakarta.
The four point-ceasefire is an important road map which is brilliantly and wisely initiated by Samdech Hun Sen, which ASEAN countries must approve to bring long lasting peace along the border between Cambodia and Thailand. It is crystal clear that the four-point ceasefire is the best road map which shows a firm commitment by Cambodian Prime Minister. The four point-ceasefire are as follows:
1- Both parties agree to the permanent cease fire and stop fighting forever
2- Both parties agree to maintain the current position of armed forces and by not mobilizing its armed forces until a resolution on demarcation of the border settled.
3- Both parties encourage the countries’ commanders to open talks to improve cooperation to restore the situation to the pre-July 15 2008
4- To ensure the effectiveness, ASEAN countries must come to monitor the ceasefire.
But on 18 February, was quoted by Bangkok Post Online, reported that “Abhisit Vejjajiva refused a ceasefire agreement proposed by Cambodian Prime Minister”. Abhisit said “We are not the ones that started fire. It’s too early to talk about the signing of the agreement”. Abhisit said that ASEAN would not interfere in the content of the issue discussed at the negotiating table”. Abhisit said the two countries in conflict must hold talks and ASEAN could act as facilitator”.
There is no doubt that Abhisit refused the abovementioned proposal once Samdech Hun Sen is aware of the refusal before it reached Abhisit’s hand. Abhisit’s refusal can be clearly understood that Abhisit wanted to nurture long-standing dispute so as to manipulate for its political gain in the Thai internal political unrest, which the Democrat must win in the next general elections. This is one of the reasons. But the straight question is that why is Abhisit afraid of multilateral mechanism, and keep clinging to the bilateral negotiation without a third party? Actually there are many foreseeable answers. One of those, Abhisit probably wanted to create a tense situation along the border to thwart the Cambodia’s Management Plan which is set to be raised on the 35th Session of the WHC in Bahrain next June.
There are many reasons behind the political hidden agenda of the Thai ruling elites in Bangkok. Thailand is a big country in terms of its population, military and economic strength, as compared to Cambodia, a small member of ASEAN. Given these reasons the bilateral negotiation looks more advantageous rather than political risky to Thailand. Bilateral negotiation provides Thailand a win-win position at its political calculation, which Thailand, with its upper hand in military and economic strength, can do its bargaining and compromising in the negotiation. Such a negotiation is in the dark room, which the negotiation result can not be warranted and guaranteed by Thai side. On this reason, Cambodia could not sit for talk with Thailand any more since the three previous agreements were to be asked through the complicated internal rule and procedure for approval of Thai parliament or to be delayed indefinitely.
Why Abhisit is afraid of the multilateral mechanism? In reality, multilateral mechanism is the dead end and pitfall of political lifeline for Abhisit and the Thai ruling elites since the pursuing of a policy of territorial expansion has been remained in the mindset in the Thai political ruling classes relating to foreign policy with its neighbors. Multilateral mechanism is the negotiation in the light room with outsiders or a third party involved to monitoring the process and as a witness to ensuring that a definitive and permanent ceasefire deal is fully implemented or the rule of law is applied. For multilateral mechanism, is a big risk which Thailand through the Democrat used to lose in the international court of justice on the Case Concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear in 1962. Cambodian legal officials are preparing a document to raise the 1962 judgment to ICJ for interpretation to be clear that the Temple of Preah Vihear and the Vicinity of the Temple is legally located in Cambodian territory. In response, Thai foreign minister, Kasit Piromya, quoted by Bangkok Post Online on 15 February 2011, said that the government is ready to present its case in the Thai-Cambodian border dispute if Phnom Penh takes the issue to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). This is a package of solution, which can ensure and guarantee both long lasting peace and definitive and stable boundary line between the two countries.
For the root cause of the current border dispute between the two counties has not been caused by the inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List. In fact, it has been exacerbated by Thailand’s usage of its mysterious, unilateral and internationally unrecognized map, which Thailand itself drew this unilateral map after it lost in the Hague based ICJ in 1962 and later fabricated a so-called dispute area around the Temple. If Thailand was not clear about the 1962 ICJ judgment, why did Thailand not file for revision within the period of 10 years as stated in the article 61 of ICJ statute? Thailand accepted the 1962 ICJ judgment. The Temple of Preah Vihear and the vicinity of the Temple de jure and de facto belong to Cambodia.
Around 45 years later, once Thailand’s domestic political event has come to a dramatic change in 2006, which the Thai Rak Thai Party led Government was toppled and later Pro-Thaksin Government come to power. Since than the inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear has been held in Thailand’s domestic political hostage. For most of Thai people are clearly aware that the Temple of Preah Vihear legally belongs to Cambodia. And the inscription of the Temple is a cultural affair in nature of Cambodia and that of the World Heritage Committee, which WHC has collective responsibility for protecting and salvaging the Temple.
On the contrary, some Thai politicians, ultra-nationalists and its local media outlets twisted, misled and misrepresented and misinterpreted the historic, factual and legal base relating to the 1962 ICJ judgment by wrongly saying that the ICJ only ruled the Temple of Preah Vihear is situated in the Cambodian territory but kept short to rule the area around the Temple. If Thailand did not clearly understand the ICJ’s three point-ruling, Thailand must look to the ICJ’s principal grounds for its ruling in 1962. In its reasoning, the ICJ very clearly demonstrated the legal validity of the border line as shown in the “ANNEX I MAP”. Therefore, according to the “ANNEX I MAP” used by the ICJ in 1962, the Temple of Preah Vihear and the Vicinity of the Temple is legally located in the territory under the sovereignty of Cambodia. By inventing its mysterious, unilateral map which was not recognized by the international community, Thailand shamelessly keeps claiming the disputed area adjacent to the Temple which grossly violated the 1962 ICJ judgment and the international rule of law.
In short, for the first scenario, the UNSC has extremely paid attention to the Cambodian-Thai border dispute. For any definitive and permanent ceasefire deal can prevail unless ASEAN steps in the talk, which relies on Thailand’s goodwill. For the first move, ASEAN must step in; otherwise ASEAN itself will lose its credibility, image and mutual trust as mandated by the UNSC in the eyes of the international community and the whole world. However, the road map for peace remains too far to be clear in the ASEAN foreign ministers meeting in Jakarta this week.
For the second scenario, if Thailand keeps claiming the area adjacent to the Temple and peace deal did not prevail, it is really inevitable that 1962 ICJ judgment must be brought up to the ICJ for its interpretation in consistency with article 94 of the UN Charter. And the UNSC must step in to decide upon measures to be taken to give effect to the 1962 ICJ judgment. And this is probably the death end and pitfall of political lifeline for Thai ruling elites. Because the 1962 ICJ judgment is a historical lesson for them to learn. Therefore, such a mechanism is a real big loss for them which most of them do not want to take risk.
By SEK SAR.S.K
Junior Researcher on the Case Concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear
(Cambodia vs.Thailand) 15 June 1962
(The comments are solely the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Royal Government of Cambodia.)