Friday, 18 February 2011 07:56 DAP-NEWS .Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has rejected Cambodia's proposal for the two countries to sign a ceasefire agreement, stating that it was too early to talk about such a move. Mr Abhisit said the two countries in conflict must hold talks and Asean could act as a facilitator.
"We were not the ones that started the fight. It is still too soon to talk about signing any agreement," Mr Abhisit was quoted by the Thai media as saying, in response to the call made by Cambodia.
Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen has proposed yesterday that Thailand and Cambodia sign a definitive and permanent ceasefire deal, witnessed by other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or the Asean chair, when Asean foreign ministers meet in Jakarta next Tuesday.
Asean is not in a position to be involved in the matters to be discussed by Thailand and Cambodia, Abhisit had said, adding Cambodian Prime Minister’s Hun Sen's proposal was still not clear.
Questions to be asked are:
1) If Thailand did indeed not start this fight in the first place, what is it afraid of in signing a Definitive and Permanent Ceasefire as demanded by the UNSC?
2) If Thailand did not play up to the pressures imposed on it by its own political parties and mount this war of aggression, why is it rejecting United Nations or ASEAN Observers who would provide a buffer zone? Is it because Thailand is afraid it would be caught red-handed mounting repeated attacks on Cambodia to permanently annex the Temple of Preah Vihear and the Thai so-called disputed areas, make it its own and thereafter hoodwinking the international community that Thailand is indeed the owner and custodian of the so-called disputed areas when in history, in law and in the international community’s eyes, especially the ICJ and UNESCO it is not.
3) Is it not a fact that Thailand has capitulated by agreeing to ASEAN being a facilitator while the initiative of Prime Minister is an extension of the same ASEAN initiative for calling a definitive and permanent ceasefire, which is also mandated by the UNSC?
4) What is not clear of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s proposal? What part of this does premier Abihisit does not understand? Is Thailand’s premier really an incorrigible upstart who wants to sacrifice peace overtures from a smaller neighbor?
5) Is Thailand afraid of committing to a permanent ceasefire because it has close to 30,000 troops in the so-called disputed border, armed with main battle tanks, squadrons of attack helicopters and jet fighters, batteries of heavy artilleries, clearly and indisputably equipped with cluster bombs and toxic gasses and since these are in such close proximity that the ASEAN or other military observers can easily spot and thus point the finger at Thai aggression?
By first twisting and misleading the silent majority of the Thai people and continuously intoxicating the international community, Thailand and its Prime Minister, has out rightly rejected peace overtures, knowing very well that whatever agreed upon in the past decade since the 2000 MOU could never be implemented or even discussed by the Thai parliament as doing so would mean the end of the Thai Government.
If Premier Abihisit is a man of peace as to what he has proclaimed in the past, rather insidiously, he has nothing to fear for a permanent ceasefire agreement, placing of ASEAN Peace Monitors, maybe even peace keepers. This of course is contingent on the Thai Premier getting his Government’s backing and oh yes – that of the PAD as well.
How do you explain this scenario?
Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong met and shook hands during the so-called Thai-Cambodian Joint Commission meeting in Siem Reap earlier this month. The Thais had unilaterally claimed that both sides had agreed to revive the Joint Boundary Commission (JBC) meetings and tentatively scheduled the next one for later this month. At least that is what the conniving Thais would like the world to believe. In reality, the proposal was raised by the Thai Foreign Minister but was never agreed to by Cambodia. This is because, meetings prior to this particular one as well as this one, had yielded little or no results because Thailand could not get its parliament to agree what was discussed at these meetings. On the contrary, the meeting was a deception as an hour or so later, while the Thai Foreign Minister was still in Cambodia, Thai troops invaded Cambodia! Now, bilateral mechanisms cannot resolve the issue as Thai actions has proven that their diplomats speak with forked tongues.
On the same day, when the question was posed to him, Thai Premier Abhisit was quoted as saying: "I believe the JBC meeting will proceed as scheduled."
But Thailand's JBC chief, Asda Jayanama, and other Thai high ranking officials are so busy with something else. He and his colleagues have not been focusing on boundary work. Instead, the veteran diplomat in particular, has been busy lobbying Unesco in Paris to try to get officials from the UN cultural body to de-list the Temple of Preah Vihear from the World Heritage list and to stay away from the damaged Preah Vihear Temple, a direct result of the Thai invasion and repeated assaults last week.
Is this not a clear case of Thailand not speaking the same language at any international front?
It is thus, curious to know why Abhisit and his close aides are so afraid of the imminent visit of UNESCO’s Assessment envoy, Mr. Matsuura and even stooped to very low diplomatic standards by alleging that Mr. Matsuura is the person responsible for inscribing the Temple of Preah Vihear in the World Heritage list.
This is an insult to Mr. Matsuura, a former WHC President and 2 term-UNESCO- Director General, who is well-known for his long time dedication to World Culture i.e. a Typical Man of Culture.
In reality, Mr. Matsuura does not have the authority to inscribe the Preah Vihear temple on the World Heritage List as alleged by the insolent Thais. Inscribing any site to the World Heritage list is a collective responsibility of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) which in turn comprises 21 member states. Thailand, in its haste to threaten UNESCO and WHC, should not misrepresent the facts as by doing so, it is only making itself look more and more foolish day by day.
Mr. Matsuura’s visit to the World Heritage site of Preah Vihear to assess the damage should not be discouraged by any party as it is a directive of the UNESCO and a necessity to understand the seriousness of the situation created by the invading Thais. This UNESCO Envoy’s mission is a very noble one since it is the sacred duty of this world organization to protect and salvage this Temple which is under threat of more destruction from future Thai invasions and assaults. Cambodia has every reason to believe that Thailand would not hesitate to destroy the temple through its artillery bombardment. It would then, as is the case now, put the blame squarely on Cambodia by alleging that Cambodia is using the temple as a military base. In reality, which Mr. Matsuura will certainly see, Cambodia is merely defending the temple from being routed or looted by the Thai army.
This is what Thailand does not want the world to see. Thailand is in reality afraid of this visit as its continued aggressive posture is a cowardly act in misleading the international community and in fact, its own people. Cambodia will not allow herself to be a pawn to Thailand’s and Abhisit’s domestic political woes.
Cambodia wants and demands a permanent ceasefire as mandated by the UNSC and as advocated by Asean via a multi-lateral platform. Thailand rejects this.
Thailand must accept what transpired from the UNSC meeting last Monday wasn't what Cambodia had demanded. Thailand didn't get what it wanted either. It is only a matter of time for the UN to decide to dispatch military observers, peacekeeping forces or fact-finding mission. The UNSC also didn't rule in favor of Thailand's request for bilateral talks either. Asean will be the mediator, which means that it's no longer a bilateral affair.
Thus, Thailand must resign itself to the inevitable fact that her demands for strictly bilateral talks is now a non starter and is dead in the water, simply because ASEAN has already called for a meeting and have stressed that there is no reason why Thailand should not agree to a permanent ceasefire with Cambodia. Third party mediation is there, irrespective of whether Thailand likes it or not. It is an absolute necessity for peace to prevail and not an exercise of Thailand trying to enforce its will on Cambodia, ASEAN, UNSC or UNESCO.
A commentary by the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Office of the Council of Ministers