Cambodia, Thai argue over diplomatic notes on pagoda and flag
Tuesday, 01 February 2011 08:15 dap-news
PHNOM PENH, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia and Thailand throw arguments over diplomatic notes concerning the pagoda and flag that have been existing near Cambodia's Preah Vihear Temple since 1998.
On Monday, the Thai Foreign Ministry issued a statement demanding Cambodia to remove the Keo Sikha Kiri Svara Pagoda and Cambodian national flag flying over the pagoda from the disputed area adjacent to the Temple of Preah Vihear.
The statement said the pagoda "is situated on Thai territory."
But, Cambodia, through the Foreign Ministry denied Tuesday with a diplomatic note saying "It is well acknowledged in Thailand that the Keo Sikha Kiri Svara pagoda was built by the people of Cambodia in 1998 with the flag of the Kingdom of Cambodia flying over this pagoda since then."
"The question is why only now that Thailand demanded for the removal of Cambodia's flag. Until now, Cambodia has never received any official demand from Thailand," it said.
"The Keo Sikha Kiri Svara Pagoda is legally well situated in Cambodian territory; and by no means will Cambodia relocate this pagoda elsewhere and Cambodia will continue to fly its flags there, " the statement added.
The argument is exchanged amid two Thai nationals being tried in Phnom Penh on Tuesday for their illegal entry, illegal trespass into a military zone and collecting information which is harmful to Cambodia's national affairs.
They were arrested in Banteay Meanchey Province by the Cambodian authorities on Dec. 29 for the above acts.
The two are known as Veera Somkwamkid, one of the leaders of the People's Network Against Corruption and an activist in the Thailand Patriot Network, and his secretary known as Ratree Pipatanapaiboon. Enditem ..
THAILAND MUST BE SENSITIVE TO ICAPP VOICES AND TO THE WISDOM OF WORLD OPINION
Tuesday, 01 February 2011 04:54 DAP-NEWS .- The International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) reaffirmed the ICJ Decision 15 June 1962;
- The International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) reaffirmed the World Heritage Committee to inscribe the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List;
- The Cambodian flag flies over territory under Cambodian sovereignty only.
There is no Cambodian flag flying over "the disputed area". Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva should not be alarmed and wrongly demand that the Cambodian flag be removed. It flies certainly over territory under Cambodian sovereignty only, in the area of the Temple of Preah Vihear.
It is Cambodia's longstanding official position that there is "no overlapping area," and "no disputed area" near the Temple of Preah Vihear, based on the Dangrek Map, known in legal and international circles as the ANNEX I map, accepted and used by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 1962 in order to make the historical, legal and international judgments of 15 June 1962, (Cambodia vs Thailand), case: The Temple of Preah Vihear. The ICJ found that Thailand had accepted the ANNEX I map, which confers the binding character of the ANNEX I map on the parties to the 13 February 1904 Convention.
The site of the Keo Sikha Kiri Svara pagoda is situated 300 meters west of the Temple of Preah Vihear and 700 meters south of the frontier on the ANNEX I map, as delimited by the Mixed Commission composed of French and Siamese officers prescribed in the provisions of Articles 1 and 3 of the 13 February 1904 Convention.
Legitimately and legally speaking, this is an area under Cambodian sovereignty, and as such Cambodia is free to fly her flag or develop infrastructure aimed at improving the living conditions of the people in communities which had been established under Cambodian administrative supervision and control. Having said that, as long as (i) it is not a Thai provocation by actions and words, (ii) not a cause to cloud the relations and mutual understandings between Cambodia and Thailand, (iii) not hidden or open violations of Cambodia sovereignty by Thailand, how Thailand sees the frontier line on the ANNEX I map would not be a concern for Cambodia. The ANNEX I map exists legally. An international, final and stable frontier line exists legally as delimited by the Mixed Commission and as shown on the map.
Most recently, on 5 December 2010, after concluding successfully the 6th General Assembly of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) represented by 89 Asian ruling and opposition political parties, ICAPP Standing Committee members visited the Temple of Preah Vihear. They stood on the grounds of the Temple, turning their eyes north, looking at Thailand, and:
- Reaffirmed the great international significance and outstanding universal value -very pure, significant and exceptional- of this Temple in accordance with the cultural standard of UNESCO, which was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2008, and expressed their appreciation of the Decision made by the World Heritage Committee to inscribe the Temple on the World Heritage List in Quebec, Canada;
- Expressed their entire satisfaction with the decision of the International Court of Justice in June 1962, which ruled the Temple of Preah Vihear is indisputably situated in territory under the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Cambodia;
- Appealed to the international community for their immediate assistance in restoring, preserving and protecting the Temple, following the example of ICC-Angkor, which should be applied as a model for the sacred site of the Temple of Preah Vihear.
As it is known universally among civilized nations in case of contention, there exist international standards, rules and procedures to resolve the differences peacefully, and in this instance between Cambodia and Thailand. Rolling tanks, sending troops to the border areas, beefed up troops with heavy weapons by Thailand are acts of provocation and the threat of using forces is imminent not to be ignored by the Cambodian people and government.
Thailand, since the days of the ICJ proceedings has shown its true color to be driven by insatiable territorial ambition over Cambodia and has resorted to innuendo, speculation and suggestion in a variety of ways intended to intoxicate international public opinion with the scheme of swaying it to the side of Thailand and to believe that Thailand is a victim of Cambodian territorial encroachment and that Cambodia has remained badly mean and aggressive and yet unpunished by the international public opinion. Sure enough, Thai people, for nationalist reasons have fallen for that. But the international public opinion, despite relentless campaigns by Thai powerful media in many different foreign languages, has instead given to Thailand a slap in the face by:
- Being skeptical from the start, knowing that Thailand is relatively much, much more economically and military powerful than Cambodia to allow the latter to bully Thailand; that is unthinkable.
- Believing that Thailand as a whole from top to bottom would not have tolerated any neighbors had they encroach Thai territory, or occupy a square inch of Thai territory, and asking why Thailand has not acted if it was true.
- Seeing Thailand's indecisiveness and hesitation pertinent to the alleged loss of Thai "disputed territory" as the admission of Thailand's scare of the unknown resulting from its lie and deception if it pursues military, diplomatic or international legal action.
- Getting tired of the same broken song about "overlapping area" and "disputed area," while insisting to resolve the "problems" bi-laterally and resisting the alternative approach of finishing up the Thai unproductive and annoying saga full of innuendo, suggestion and speculation, by using the good auspices of ASEAN and the UNITED NATIONS.
- Concluding that Thailand is a crying baby, and that is the end of it.
The Cambodian people have reasons to be thankful to the international public opinion for its fairness in listening to their voices telling the fact and the truth and referring only to the binding international convention treaty and legality.
Often times Thailand's provocations and threats of using forces are real and therefore, they demand vigilance from Cambodians at all times. Well over two years now, since 15 July 2008, Thailand has learnt some sad lessons that it should not have messed around with Cambodia, under the wise leadership of Prime Minister, Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen who has the dream and the wisdom of building peaceful and developing areas along the border of Cambodia with Thailand and other neighbors, but is determined to lead a united Cambodia to defend her sovereignty and safeguard her territorial integrity.
Senior Analyst and Researcher on Cambodian-Thai Relations Institute for International Affairs, Cambodia