Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Asean optimism on Thai-Cambodian row

via CAAI

Published: 3/05/2011 
Online news: Local News

Indonesia has remained positive that Thailand and Cambodia would resume its dialogue, either by themselves or with its presence, said its foreign minister at the sidelines of the Asean Civil Society Conference and the Asean People’s Forum.

The Asean chairman, Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, told Bangkok Post that he has been having good communications with both Thai and Cambodian sides.

Mr Marty has faced recent embarrassment as the Indonesia-brokered border meeting between the two conflicting parties due to the Thai cancellation to show up at the General Border Committee and strong opposition to the term of reference for the deployment of Indonesian observers to the disputed areas.

"I’m not pessimistic about the conclusion of the TOR (despite the military pull-out) as I’ve tried to deal with the Thai government," said the Indonesian foreign minister.

Asked if he believed there were unified voices among the Thai officials, he smiled and responded that the Thai media should know more than him.

Mr Marty said he looked forward to taking advantage of the Asean summit to have communications with the Thai and Cambodian counterparts.

"There'll be a possibility for the two sides’ meeting but whether they need a trilateral among us (still unknown)," he said.

Diplomatic sources noted that the high global status of Indonesia has been recently tested as the U.S. has been publicly backing up India’s role in global peace-building and security-making, the area where Indonesia has been pitching itself globally.

The stalled Jakarta-chaired Thai-Cambodian dialogue has caused further blow to Indonesia stature, "Indonesia has succeeded initially in getting Asean face into the supportive efforts to resolve bilateral conflicts in February and alter on in hosting the Thai-Cambodian joint boundary committee," diplomatic sources said.

However, Cambodia’s last week move to petition to the UN Security Council and to the International Court of Justice to intervene on the bilateral conflict has bypassed and undermined further role of Asean, and particularly Indonesia, in this protracted border conflicts, sources said.

Diplomats predicted that foreign ministers of the two sides would rather talk while Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen might want to meet the future leader after the forthcoming election.

Meanwhile Ngin Saorath, executive director, Cambodian Disabled Peoples’ Organisation, said it was disappointment that border clashes still continued onto its second week.

"I grew up during the Pol Pot regime, We were fed up with wars, there should be no further war, either internally or with neighbours," said the 40-year-old disabled Saorath, a native of Ta Kaew province.

However, he did not believe the Thai border conflicts would give an edge to the Hun Sen administration, "After all, Prime Minister Hun Sen has already in power for a long uninterrupted period. He has already a good grip of power, so no need to wage war to strengthen his status," said Mr Saorath.

He said whenever the border erupted, it was the people alongside the border in sufferings, "The governments should think more about how to free people from hunger and from want," said the Phnom Penh-based activist.

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