Sunday, 8 November 2009

Japan 'concerned' about Thai-Cambodia spat: PM

By Agence France-Presse

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama on Saturday said Japan was "concerned" about the recent spat between Cambodia and Thailand over Phnom Penh's job offer to a fugitive former Thai premier, an official said.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama on Saturday said Japan was "concerned" about the recent spat between Cambodia and Thailand over Phnom Penh's job offer to a fugitive former Thai premier, an official said.

"I'm concerned about the recent situation," Hatoyama told his visiting counterpart Hun Sen at a bilateral meeting, as quoted by a Japanese foreign ministry official.

"I hope the problem between the two countries will improve" as they are important neighbours in the Mekong River region, Hatoyama said.

Hun Sen said "the situation in border areas is stable although there have been verbal exchanges between the two countries over the past two-to-three months," according to the Japanese official.

The bilateral meeting came after Japan's summit talks with five Mekong River countries, which also include Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

There was no bilateral talk between Hun Sen and Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva the Japanese foreign ministry knows of, the official said.

Hatoyama had a separate meeting later Saturday with Abhisit, who said he wanted to "keep the problem from worsening," the official said.

Thailand said Friday it would tear up an oil and gas exploration deal with Cambodia, stoking a row over Phnom Penh's naming of fugitive former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra as an economics adviser.

The government in Bangkok also warned that it could seal the border between the two countries, one day after the neighbours both recalled their respective ambassadors in the escalating spat.

Thailand and Cambodia have fought a series of deadly skirmishes since July 2008 over disputed land around the ancient Preah Vihear temple on the border.

POLITICS: Thai-Cambodia Diplomatic Row Bares Decades-Long Rift

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

By Marwaan Macan-Markar

BANGKOK, Nov 7 (IPS) - Thailand’s swift and strong response to Cambodia’s decision to appoint ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as an economic adviser exposed an emotional faultline rooted in decades of mutual suspicion and hatred.

By the weekend, Bangkok had delivered its second blow to an already tense relationship between the two South-east Asian kingdoms. The Thai government announced it was revoking a memorandum of understanding between the two countries on developing an overlapping maritime area rich in oil and gas reserves in the Gulf of Thailand.

It was inevitable, said the Thai government, after Phnom Penh’s appointment of Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup and lives in exile to evade a two-year jail term after being found guilty in a conflict of interest case. Thaksin’s new role in Cambodia "will directly affect negotiations" between the two countries, states the Thai foreign ministry, since Thaksin "was directly involved in the negotiation process" in 2001 when he was Thailand’s prime minister.

The tone for such a tough response by the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was set on Thursday. Bangkok withdrew its ambassador in Cambodia in protest against the Thaksin appointment. Phnom Penh reciprocated by Friday.

"We view the appointment of Thaksin as an interference in Thailand’s domestic affairs and disregard for Thailand’s judicial system," Thani Thongphakdi, Thai foreign ministry’s deputy spokesman, told IPS. "Our reaction has been commensurate with the action of Cambodia."

Thaksin’s appointment as the new economic advisor to Cambodia was announced Wednesday night on the country’s state television station. He was appointed by a royal decree as a "personal advisor to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and the adviser to the Cambodian government in charge of economy," a statement from Phnom Penh revealed.

Hun Sen’s choice of the fugitive former Thai premier, who became a billionaire telecommunications tycoon before he was elected as Thailand’s leader in 2001, is in keeping with a practice known in Cambodia for years— of the government and the royal family appointing foreign nationals to help them as advisors.

Prior to Thaksin, Hun Sen’s economic advisor was South Korea’s current president, Lee Myung-bak. The latter served in that advisory role from 2000 till 2007, resigning ahead of the 2008 presidential poll.

"Cambodia views the appointment of Mr. Thaksin as an internal affair. We have had economic advisors to our prime minister before, like the current president of South Korea from 2000 till 2007," said Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Cambodian foreign ministry. "The Thai government is trying to mix things up."

"It is up to the Thai side to clarify the status of our relationship," Koy added during a telephone interview from Phnom Penh. "Cambodia wants to have good relations with Thailand."

Hun Sen’s fiery rhetoric towards Thailand betrays such sentiments. He is on record saying that Phnom Penh would not extradite Thaksin if he moved to Cambodia. That followed a statement that Cambodia would offer Thaksin a new home.

The recent war of words between Cambodia and Thailand threatened to overshadow a summit of South-east Asian leaders held last month in a Thai resort town south of Bangkok. "Don’t allow anybody to use you as a pawn," Abhisit told the media in a comment targeted at Hun Sen.

The current tension between the two countries has grown since July last year over a 10th century Hindu temple, Preah Vihear, perched on top of a steep cliff on the Thai-Cambodian border.

The World Heritage Committee ruled that month that the Preah Vihear would be recognised as a world heritage site. It also recognised a 1962 ruling by the International Court of Justice that the temple was within Cambodian territory.

Thai nationalists responded with rage, prompting a troop build-up by both sides. In April this year the soldiers from both countries exchanged gunfire, leaving three people dead.

The relationship between the richer Thailand and the poorer Cambodia hit a low point in 2003, when the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh was burned down by rioters angered by a remark made by a Thai actress that allegedly questioned Cambodia’s ownership of another landmark temple. Thaksin was the Thai premier at the time.

"What we are witnessing is the love-hate relationship between the Thai and Cambodians. The problem has deep roots, going back to the Second World War period," said Charnvit Kasetsri, a historian at Bangkok’s Thammasat University. "Anti-French feelings that Thais had towards the French when they were colonial rulers of Cambodia were transferred to anti-Cambodian feelings after Cambodia got independence."

Thailand’s elites also fed this feeling in later years, Charnvit explained in an interview. "Bangkok’s educated people look down upon Cambodians as less educated and people that cannot be trusted and are unreliable."

The United States government’s war in Indo-China saw the two countries on either side of the battle lines. The Thai government, under a military dictatorship and a strong U.S. ally, was peeved at Cambodia’s neutral stance over the war during the 1960s.

Through the 1980s, after Cambodians were freed from the genocidal Khmer Rouge by the invading Vietnamese military, Thailand opened its eastern borders for the Khmer Rouge to survive. Bangkok, in fact, was the gateway for Khmer Rouge leaders to interact with the international community. Cambodia’s present attitude towards Thailand, on the other hand, reflects a trend that has evolved over the past 20 years.

"For years Thailand was an important investor in Cambodia and was always welcome, but now its predominant role has been replaced by China, Japan and others," said Punagthong Pawakapan, assistant professor in international relations at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University. "They do not have to depend on Thailand unlike before."

China, with over 3,000 companies and with investments valued at over 1.5 billion U.S. dollars, is the largest investor in Cambodia. South Korea follows, with 1.2 billion dollars in investment. And Japan, with over 1.2 billion U.S. dollars, has been Cambodia’s top donor since 1992.

Thailand’s investments are valued at 226 million U.S. dollars. Its major investments are in hotels and the agro-industry. China has poured money into large infrastructure projects while South Korea has invested in the information technology sector.

"Thailand’s relationship with its other neighbours like Burma, Laos and Malaysia do not compare with the relationship with Cambodia," Punagthong told IPS. "Disagreements do not result in the same kind of tension and trouble."

Shinawatra to visit Cambodia

Sunday, 8 November 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra will visit Cambodia this week in his new role as the government's economics adviser.

'Thaksin will be at the Ministry of Economy and Finance on November 12, to do a briefing with 300 Cambodian economics experts,' Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen told a news conference at Phnom Penh International Airport.

Cambodia and Thailand recalled their respective ambassadors after Cambodia appointed Mr Shinawatra, who was ousted as Thailand's prime minister in a coup in 2006, as an economics adviser.

Hun Sen also announced that he would withdraw an elite unit of paratroopers from disputed territory near Preah Vihear temple, where Thai and Cambodian troops have been squared off in a deadly border dispute since last year.

Ex-PM 'might move to Cambodia'

November 8, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra is likely to use Cambodia as the new base for his political operations due to its proximity to Thailand, political scientist Chaianan Samudvanija said yesterday.

He said Cambodia would be more favourable for Thaksin as his current base - Dubai in the United Arab Emirates - is "too far away" from Thailand.

However, Chaianan, a former Constitution Court judge, said he thought Thaksin's decision to move his base to Cambodia "would not be a wise one". He explained that Thais generally are not familiar with having their politicians relying on assistance from other countries.

He was speaking at a seminar organised by the National Institute of Development Administration (Nida) in Pattaya.

Chaianan said that with Thaksin moving to Cambodia, political activities would become "more intense" as politicians close to him would find it easier to meet him in the neighbouring country.

He also had no worries about the increasing rivalry between the red shirts and the yellow shirts, saying the confrontation was part of political development to a higher level of democracy. He said Thais have become more politically active and their participation in political activities has become uninterrupted, unlike that during the brief periods around the student-led uprising of October 1973.

Support sought for Rice for Cambodia event

Saturday, Nov. 07, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

By the Herald staff

KGTS-FM, Positive Life Radio 91.3, is seeking community support for its annual Rice for Cambodia Campaign from Wednesday to Friday.

The goal is to raise $160,000 to purchase and distribute 300 tons of rice to families living in Cambodian villages, according to the station.

The radio station is partnering with Musicianaries International and TransformAsia, a nonprofit group.

Musicianaries International was founded by recording artist Bobby Michaels, who died March 31 shortly after suffering a heart attack while on a trip to Cambodia.

His wife, Lee, and several other Musicianaries International members will join the radio staff for this year's fundraiser, the station said.

During a July trip, 28 villages were visited and 330 tons of rice was distributed.

Cancel other pacts, financial aid projects to Cambodia, PAD urges

Published: 8/11/2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

The government should consider cancelling other agreements with Cambodia to show its displeasure, after Cambodia hired former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as an adviser, says the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD).

The PAD threw its support behind Friday's decision by the government to cancel a memorandum of understanding on development of an overlapping maritime area in the Gulf of Thailand.

But it said the Democrat Party-led government should step up its protest action, by reviewing other agreements with the country, evicting Cambodians who have illegally settled in disputed border areas claimed by both countries, and cancelling all aid projects for Cambodia.

A PAD rally persuaded the previous government backed by Thaksin to reverse its support for Cambodia's decision to list the ruins of the 11th century Hindu temple of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage site, under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

The decision to scrap the MoU on the maritime boundary has led to a spat between the Democrats and opposition Puea Thai Party.

The Democrats have criticised Thaksin's decision to accept Cambodia's offer to advise Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his government.

The ruling party, as expected, supports the government's move to review all MoUs signed by the Thaksin administration with Thailand's neighbour.

They must be reviewed to protect Thailand's interests, said Democrat spokesman Buranat Samutarak.

The government fears that if Thaksin begins to act as Cambodia's adviser, he could put Thailand in a disadvantageous position.

Mr Buranat said bilateral relations with Cambodia had turned sour because of Mr Thaksin's lack of conscience.

Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin's younger sister, told Puea Thai supporters in Ayutthaya yesterday that her brother had no intention of damaging the country.

Thaksin said advising Cambodia was a neighbourly thing to do, and could result in benefits to Thailand.

Hun Sen appointed Thaksin as his personal and government adviser on economic affairs on Oct 27. The appointment was announced last Wednesday.

Cambodian culture

Sunday November 8, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Stories and photos by TAN SHIOW CHIN

With the double duty of playing tourist and examining tourism practices, 75 KDU College students set out to explore the rich heritage of Cambodia.

EXCELLENT. Oh my God! Surprising. An eye-opener. Wonderful. Fascinating.

These were some of the words used to describe the recent study tour to Cambodia by some 75 KDU College final-year students.

The Event Management and International Hotel and Tourism Management students spent four days exploring the tourist attractions of Siem Reap and Phnom Penh as part of their International Tourism module.

Jasmine Hong (right) handing out biscuits to pupils of the Kchass Primary School during the group’s visit to the school.

From ancient and recent historical sites to being swarmed by souvenir sellers calling out, “Buy from me; only one dollah!”, they soaked in the typical experience of a visitor to this beautiful but economically-backward country.

Frenetic first day

It was go, go, go from the moment the group touched down at the Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport on their first day.

While their bags were checked in to the Ree Hotel, the students headed for their first stop at the Artisans D’Angkor.

This handicraft centre — established in 1992 with help from the European Union and is now an independent Cambodian company — trains uneducated rural youths, orphans and the hearing-impaired in traditional handicraft skills.

Said William Loh, 21: “Although I felt it was too crowded (with tourists) at the centre, it was still a very good experience. The trainees had amazing skills.”

Eritrean student Senet Kassaye Menghistie Desta, 21, agreed, saying that the trip made her realise that tourism is not only enriching for the visitor, but also for the local economy and community.

From the centre, it was then off to the largest freshwater body in Southeast Asia – the Tonle Sap lake.

For many of the students, this was the highlight of the trip, for both the cooling, scenic boat ride, as well as the opportunity to see one of the lake’s floating villages.

Shared Iranian student Mahdi Saman, 24: “I liked the Tonle Sap lake because we could see how the people there live and how they sustain themselves.”

After the cruise, it was time to visit a part of Cambodia’s sad past.

Sad history: Some of the students in front of the glass-fronted stupa containing bones of victims of the Khmer Rouge regime at Wat Thmei.

A stop at Wat Thmei allowed the students to view the bones of victims — housed in a special glass-walled stupa in the temple’s compound — killed in nearby areas during the Khmer Rouge regime.

By that time, the sun was starting to set and stomachs were rumbling after a long afternoon of sight-seeing.

Empty tummies were quickly filled at a buffet dinner, while a visit to the Angkor Night Market with its myriad of souvenir stalls after that helped to empty some wallets.

Exploring Angkor

The next day saw the students gearing up for a visit to the jewel of the Cambodian tourist industry – the Angkor temple complex.

Said local tour guide Phay Sophy: “There are thousands of temples in Cambodia, and hundreds in Angkor.”

With only one day to spare, the itinerary included the Ta Prohm temple, the ancient city of Angkor Thom, Bakheng Hill and of course, Angkor Wat itself.

Introduced to popular culture by the film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, the Ta Prohm temple is also a favourite among tourists due to the many large trees that have overgrown and intertwined with its structure.

Built in the 12th century and abandoned in the 15th, the temple was intentionally left in this condition to allow visitors to see it in its “original state of neglect”.

Next was the last capital of the Khmer empire built by King Jayavarman VII – Angkor Thom.

Although the city itself contains many temples, the students only explored the main state temple Bayon.

Dominated by large stone faces carved onto the sides of the many towers scattered around the temple, the students took advantage of the opportunity to snap photo after photo from the compact upper terrace of the temple.

After exiting from the northern side of the Bayon, the group took a short walk past some of the other temples of the city.

The students listening to a guide (left) explaining how statues are produced in the polychromy, gilding and lacquering workshop at Artisans D’Angkor.

These included the Baphuon, the Terrace of the Elephants, which fronts the Phimeanakas temple, and some of the 12 Prasat Suor Prat towers.

Then it was back to Siem Reap for lunch, before tackling the Unesco World Heritage site of Angkor Wat.

Although the cloudy sky suggested rain in the afternoon, it merely stayed overcast and humid, causing the students to fan themselves vigorously and perspire rivulets of sweat as they followed the guides around the vast temple complex.

Among the manifold carvings that fill the temple walls, it was the bas-relief friezes of Hindu myths along the outer gallery that caught the students’ attention.

Said Senet: “It was amazing to see how the ancient Cambodians could make the carvings and how they could last so long, and also the stories behind them.”

Penny Chong, 21, shared that out of the hundreds of photos she took on the trip, most were shot at Angkor Wat.

“We took pictures from the start to the end. We took photos of the architecture, as well as with friends, so that we can remember everything.”

The last stop of the day was the temple atop Bakheng Hill, which overlooks the entire Angkor complex.

Although the plan was to watch the sun set from the temple, the overcast sky and crowds of tourists did not provide the ideal conditions for it.

Phay (with white flag) pointing out some of the features of the Ta Prohm temple to the visitors

Having to hike up the hill after a long day of walking as well as climbing up – and down – narrow 80° steep stone steps provided an additional challenge for the students.

Some of them were also puzzled as to how the king ascended the temple as they doubted he would climb the extremely steep stairs.

But Phay quipped: “It isn’t easy to get into heaven.”

After such a long day, it was time for dinner, which was accompanied by a performance of traditional Cambodian dances and music.

Then, it was back to the hotel for a briefing by module head Gabriel Lau. (See sidebar.)

On to Phnom Penh

It was an early start the next morning to ensure that the bus ride from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh would reach the capital city in time for lunch.

The five-hour journey was interrupted for stops along the way; the first being the Kchass Primary and Secondary School just outside Siem Reap town.

Malaysian travel agent Lim Weng Sia, whose agency had organised the tour, had suggested the stop to donate stationery supplies to the school.

It was an opportunity for the students to visit a local school, as well as to get an insight of the Cambodian education system.

Said Joey Liew Hooi Yon, 20: “My favourite part of the trip was visiting the school. I came away feeling so lucky to be born in Malaysia.”

The group also stopped at the Kampong Kdey bridge — one of the longest, oldest and best preserved ancient bridges in Cambodia.

Built in the 12th century, the bridge was regularly used by heavy vehicles until 2005, when it was closed to all but light traffic to help preserve it.

Fried spiders, cockroaches and frogs were on the menu at the next stop — the informally-named Spider Market.

Verdict for the spiders: “It’s okay when you’re eating it, but there’s quite a nasty aftertaste.”

A warm welcome: The students in front of the Bayon temple in the ancient city of Angkor Thom

For the cockroaches: “It’s fried in the same sauce they use for wantan mee, so it tastes like that.”

In Phnom Penh, it was a grim visit to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, where the students learnt about the history of the infamous prison where around 20,000 people were tortured and killed.

Some students claimed they could see restless spirits around the spooky and depressing place!

After that, it was time for a more light-hearted visit to the city’s Russian Market.

Unfortunately, most of the stalls were closing by the time the group got there at 5.30pm. But the students made the most of the stop by exploring the other shops around the area.

They also had the opportunity to hit the city’s night market after dinner, where the light rain did not deter them from absorbing the bustling atmosphere and completing their shopping.

With a late morning flight home the next day, there was only time for a quick stop in front of the Royal Palace, where the Cambodian royal family lives, and the waterfront of the Mekong River just opposite, before having to say goodbye to Cambodia.

From a tourism perspective, the students could see that the country had great potential to further develop the industry.

“From my point of view, this country has much to offer compared to Indonesia or the Philippines,” said Austrian student Natascha Gmasz.

“Nothing compares to the magnificent Angkor Wat, or the floating village on the lake.”

And William commented that although the infrastructure in the country was not good, the students still managed to enjoy themselves.

“Cambodia has some unique scenery that appeals and should be aggressivley promoted to tourists,” he added.

Joey said: “The tourism industry in Cambodia does contibute to the economy and it really needs help from other countries to sustain its heritage.

“It has the potential to become a popular tourist destination and be as famous as one of its neighbours, Thailand.”

Cambodia to celebrate 56th anniversary of independence next week

November 08, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Cambodia will celebrate its 56thanniversary of Independence Day next week in Phnom Penh, a government official said Saturday.

Chea Kean, deputy secretary general of National Committee for Festivals said King Norodom Sihamoni will preside over the celebration of the event which will be held on Monday at Independence Monument.

Other leaders and participants to the event will include Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, as well as diplomatic corps, students, police and military.

Chea Kean, however, said this year, there will be no military parade even though the Nov. 9 is also the 56th anniversary of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.

He said Cambodia had already conducted a huge military parade last year at the 55th anniversary.

After Cambodia was under the French protectorate for 90 years, Cambodia claimed complete independence from France in 1953.


ASEAN urges restraint in Thai-Cambodia row

Cambodian vendors transporting goods on a truck cross a Cambodia-Thai border gate at Prum village in Pailin province, 374 kilometers (232 miles) southwest of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, yesterday. (AP)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

(Posted by CAAI news Media)

BANGKOK -- The head of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations urged Thailand and Cambodia Saturday to show “maximum restraint” amid tensions over Phnom Penh's job offer to a fugitive former Thai premier.
ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan said the 10-country bloc should not be seen to be divided by the dispute ahead of a historic meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama and regional leaders later this month.

Cambodia and Thailand on Thursday recalled their respective ambassadors after Cambodia appointed Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted as Thailand's prime minister in a coup in 2006, as an economic adviser.

Thailand and Cambodia have fought a series of deadly clashes on their border since July 2008 in a dispute over land around an ancient Cambodian temple that was granted U.N. World Heritage Status.

Surin expressed “concern over the escalation of tensions between Cambodia and Thailand, has appealed to both countries to exercise maximum restraint,” said a statement issued by the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta.

He also urged foreign ministers from the bloc to help the two countries to “settle their bilateral dispute amicably and as soon as possible.”

“We in ASEAN cannot afford to be seen as being so seriously divided prior to the upcoming APEC Economic Leaders Meeting and the historic ASEAN-U.S. Leaders Meeting in Singapore this month,” it quoted Surin as saying in a letter to regional foreign ministers.

Thailand has accused Cambodia of interfering in its internal affairs by appointing Thaksin, who is living abroad to avoid a two-year jail term for corruption.

Cambodia says Thaksin was the victim of a politically motivated case.

During his time in power, Thaksin was close to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who first floated the idea of the adviser's job at an Asian summit in October.

The billionaire tycoon has stirred up a series of protests in recent months against the Thai government. His own allies were forced from government in December 2008 after anti-Thaksin demonstrators besieged Bangkok's airports.

Abhisit defends actions

Mr Abhisit said billionaire Thaksin faced a 'conflict of interest', having previously been chief of negotiations in Thailand and now working 'for another side'. -- PHOTO: AFP

Nov 8, 2009

(Posted by CAAI news Media)

BANGKOK - THAILAND'S prime minister on Sunday defended his actions in an ongoing spat with Cambodia over Phnom Penh's job offer to a fugitive former Thai premier, saying he had to protect the country's dignity.

'All the government has done is for dignity of the country and Thai people,' said premier Abhisit Vejjajiva, adding that Thailand had acted 'calmly and carefully' to deal with the recent escalation of tensions.

Cambodia and Thailand on Thursday recalled their respective ambassadors after Cambodia appointed Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted as Thailand's prime minister in a coup in 2006, as an economic adviser.

Mr Abhisit said billionaire Thaksin faced a 'conflict of interest', having previously been chief of negotiations in Thailand and now working 'for another side'.

Thaksin is living abroad to avoid a two-year jail term for corruption, but Cambodia said the charges against him were 'politically motivated' and vowed not to extradite him if he travelled to the country.

'Criticising our justice system is unacceptable,' said Mr Abhisit, although he said he thought Cambodia was 'misinformed'. 'Everyone has to protect our justice system's dignity,' he added during his weekly television programme. -- AFP

Thaksin to visit Cambodia

Thaksin will visit Cambodia this week in his new role as the government's economics adviser. -- PHOTO: AFP

Nov 8, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH (Cambodia) - OUSTED Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra will visit Cambodia this week in his new role as the government's economics adviser, the Cambodian Prime Minister told reporters on Sunday.

'Thaksin will be at the Ministry of Economy and Finance on Nov 12, to do a briefing with 300 Cambodian economics experts,' Mr Hun Sen told a news conference at Phnom Penh International Airport.

Cambodia and Thailand on Thursday recalled their respective ambassadors after Cambodia appointed Thaksin, who was ousted as Thailand's prime minister in a coup in 2006, as an economics adviser.

Mr Hun Sen also announced that he would withdraw an elite unit of paratroopers from disputed territory near Preah Vihear temple, where Thai and Cambodian troops have been squared off in a deadly border dispute since last year. -- AFP

PM Abhisit: Diplomatic spat with Cambodia won't affect border trade

(Posted by CAAI News Media)
BANGKOK, Nov 8 (TNA) -- Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Sunday urged patriotic Thais to stand with his government, saying that the current diplomat spat with neighbouring Cambodia undertaken by his government is for the “advantage and dignity of the country” and will not mushroom to affect relations between the two peoples, especially cross-border trade.

Speaking during his weekly television and radio address, Mr. Abhisit said the problem between the two countries arose after ex-prime minister Gen. Chavalit Yongchaiyudh traveled to Cambodia and the Khmer government appointed fugitive, ousted former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra as economic advisor to its government.

The Cambodian government also criticised Thai judicial system, Mr Abhisit said, and the Thai government was forced to retaliate. No country in the world would allow such criticisms.

Mr. Abhisit said he believed the negative criticism was made because the Cambodian government had received inaccurate information.

It is necessary for the present Thai government to review agreements signed by the then government of Mr. Thaksin and the Cambodian government, especially regarding overlapping maritime boundaries and the joint development of the Gulf of Thailand, since the ousted premier has now become economic advisor (to the Khmer government), Mr. Abhisit said.

He said he had advised Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen earlier not to bring his personal relation with Mr. Thaksin as the main reason in inviting the latter to stay in Cambodia as it could “hamper cooperation between the two countries.”

Mr. Thaksin is a businessman and there are reports that he may have a vested interest in maritime resources, he said.

Both countries have recalled their ambassadors, and Thai Foreign Affairs Minister Kasit Piromya said earlier he would ask the cabinet to consider revoking the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two countries dealing with overlapping maritime boundaries in the Gulf of Thailand.

Thailand’s Supreme Court Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions sentenced Mr Thaksin to a two-year prison term in absentia after finding him guilty of a conflict of interest in Bangkok’s Ratchadaphisek land purchase case in 2003.

Mr. Abhisit also urged Thais who travel to Cambodia for gambling to stop going there as it would send a signal to the Cambodian government to treat Thailand in a practical way and to “respect each other.” (TNA)

Put country above self, Abhisit tells Thaksin

Sun, Nov 08, 2009
The Nation/Asia News Network

(Posted by CAAI news Media)

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday hit back at ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, calling on him to review his stance over becoming an economic adviser to Cambodia.

The premier said Thaksin should put the country's interests ahead of his own and not hurt its relations with neighbouring countries.

Responding to Thaksin's statement accusing the government of using internal politics to pressure Cambodia, Abhisit said the government did not start the problem. He said it started when Cambodia announced its decision to appoint Thaksin an adviser, which adversely affects Thailand's justice system.

"I have met Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen many times and we had good understanding, till Pheu Thai Party chairman General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh went to Cambodia and Thaksin was appointed as economic adviser to Cambdodia. The problem then started. Thaksin is a Thai, he should be sensitive and not blame the government,'' he said.

Abhisit said the government's downgrading of the country's relations with Cambodia was not too severe and would not lead to military clashes or affect bilateral trade.

He said Thaksin must review his stance in accepting to become an economic adviser to Cambodia because he knew all information as he had headed the government when Thailand signed the Memorandum of Understanding over the maritime overlapping zone.

"Which government will let the country lose its leverage and allow its justice system to be questioned? If we had not done that, how could have we have protected the country's interests?'' he said.

He said Thaksin's decision to side with Cambodia raised more suspicions against him over allegations that he had a vested interest over the signing of the MoU with Cambodia to seek interests in the overlapping zone.

"This make people wonder why Thaksin seems to be concerned about the interest of other countries more than his own country. They wonder whether he has a self-interest in that,'' Abhisit said.

The premier denied that the government was provoking nationalist sentiment, saying Thaksin was the one who had a problem not having nationalism.

Meanwhile, Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit yesterday said the party was concerned about recent opinion poll results, which showed that a majority of respondents supported the government's retaliation against Cambodia. He said both the Dusit Poll and Abac Poll were not impartial and the party would conduct a survey to find out the public response to the move.

He said Thaksin would on Tuesday clarify his stance about accepting the advisory position and the MoU agreement with Cambodia.

Pheu Thai MP Surapong Towichakkul challenged that if the Democrat Party believed the poll results that its popularity had surged it should dissolve Parliament and call a general election.

Also yesterday Borwornsak Uwanno, secretary-general of the King Prajadhipok's Institute, said the government had reacted correctly by recalling Thailand's ambassador to Cambodia. He warned, however, that the conflict between Thailand and Cambodia could lead to the dissolution of Asean.

Thai premier urges Hun Sen to behave as 'good neighbor'+

Nov 8 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

BANGKOK, Nov. 8 (AP) - (Kyodo)—Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva urged Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday to behave like a "good neighbor" and reconsider his appointment of ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra as economic adviser.

Hun Sen's decision has triggered a bitter row between the two neighboring countries and prompted Thailand to withdraw its ambassador to Cambodia and cancel bilateral maritime talks.

Abhisit, speaking on a weekly television program, vented his frustration over Hun Sen's decision and said Bangkok cannot tolerate the criticism that Hun Sen has leveled against the Thai judicial system in making Thaksin his economic adviser.

Thaksin was convicted in a corruption case and has fled the country. "I think it was not acceptable that Cambodia criticizes our judicial system and politics over Thaksin's case...We always behave as a good neighbor and we also want good neighbors," he said.

Abhisit admitted Thailand and Cambodia are still locked in a dispute over border demarcation and the ancient temple of Preah Vihear on the border of the two countries but talks are ongoing to resolve the dispute without intervention from outside.

"Every time we met, Hun Sen always told me that we have to look to the future and not get stuck in the past...He said even though Thaksin is a close friend of his, he won't let his friendship with Thaksin affect bilateral relations," Abhisit added.

Abhisit last met Hun Sen in Tokyo on Saturday, where they and other Southeast Asian leaders attended a Mekong River development conference hosted by Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

The Thai premier reiterated that the decision to recall the Thai ambassador from Phnom Penh and the plan to pull out of bilateral talks over overlapping maritime claims was the right response to Hu Sen's moves.

On Friday, Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said Bangkok will seek to abrogate a memorandum of understanding on maritime boundary negotiations signed by the two countries in 2001 while Thaksin was still Thai premier.

Kasit said Thailand's negotiating stance is known to Thaksin, so his new advisory position could leave Thailand at a disadvantage in the maritime talks with Cambodia, which have not made progress in the last eight years.

During the TV program, Abhisit also called on the Thai people to show harmony over the Thaksin issue to protect the dignity of the country.

He also insisted that the row with Cambodia will not affect other countries in the region.

Thaksin was ousted as Thai prime minister in 2006 in a bloodless coup while he was out of the country and was later convicted of conflict of interest while in power and sentenced in absentia to two years in prison.

Cambodia believes the charges against Thaksin were politically motivated, making the 1998 extradition treaty between the two countries inapplicable.

Ties between Cambodia and Thailand have deteriorated since Thaksin's ouster, with armed forces from both sides skirmishing along disputed areas of their land border, particularly near a Cambodian temple long claimed by Thailand. The temple is listed as a World Heritage site.

On Wednesday, the Cambodian government announced that Thaksin, whom Hu Sen calls a close friend, has been appointed as an economic adviser and is free to travel and reside in Cambodia.

A day after the announcement, the Thai government recalled its ambassador to Cambodia in protest at the move and Cambodia recalled its ambassador to Bangkok in retaliation.

Thailand protecting 'dignity' in Cambodia spat: PM

Thai soldier is seen near the country's border with Cambodia in Sri Sa Ket province


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

BANGKOK — Thailand's prime minister Sunday defended his actions in an ongoing spat with Cambodia over Phnom Penh's job offer to a fugitive former Thai premier, saying he had to protect the country's dignity.

"All the government has done is for dignity of the country and Thai people," said premier Abhisit Vejjajiva, adding that Thailand had acted "calmly and carefully" to deal with the recent escalation of tensions.

Cambodia and Thailand on Thursday recalled their respective ambassadors after Cambodia appointed Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted as Thailand's prime minister in a coup in 2006, as an economic adviser.

Abhisit said billionaire Thaksin faced a "conflict of interest", having previously been chief of negotiations in Thailand and now working "for another side".

Thaksin is living abroad to avoid a two-year jail term for corruption, but Cambodia said the charges against him were "politically motivated" and vowed not to extradite him if he travelled to the country.

"Criticising our justice system is unacceptable," said Abhisit, although he said he thought Cambodia was "misinformed".

"Everyone has to protect our justice system's dignity," he added during his weekly television programme.

The two countries have fought a series of deadly clashes on their border since July 2008 in a dispute over land around an ancient Cambodian temple that was granted UN World Heritage Status.

"There is no reason to make tensions at the border which might lead to clashes," Abhisit added.

Thailand had warned Friday that it could seal the border between the two countries and further stoked the row by saying it would tear up an oil and gas exploration deal with Cambodia.

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama told his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen at a bilateral meeting in Tokyo Saturday that he was "concerned" about the spat, a Japanese official said.

The head of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, General Surin Pitsuwan, also urged Thailand and Cambodia Saturday to show "maximum restraint".

He said the 10-country bloc should not be seen to be divided by the dispute ahead of a historic meeting with US President Barack Obama and regional leaders later this month. But Abhisit denied the spat would affect the summit.

Asean Urges Restraint in Thai-Cambodia Spat

Associated Press
NOVEMBER 7, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

BANGKOK -- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations expressed concern Saturday over a worsening diplomatic feud between Cambodia and Thailand and urged the neighboring countries to exercise restraint.

Already tense relations between the two nations erupted this past week when Cambodia named fugitive Thai ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra its economic adviser. Thailand recalled its ambassador Thursday, and Cambodia followed suit.

The row stands to embarrass the 10-nation bloc and undermine its credibility at a summit of Asian and Pacific leaders in Singapore later this month, ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan said. U.S. President Barack Obama is to have his first summit with ASEAN at the meeting.

Surin expressed "concern over the escalation of tensions between Cambodia and Thailand (and) has appealed to both countries to exercise maximum restraint," an ASEAN statement said.

Surin took the unusual step of publicly asking ASEAN's foreign ministers to "assist the two (countries) to settle their bilateral dispute amicably and as soon as possible." ASEAN generally abides by a policy of not interfering in the internal affairs of its members.

The appointment of Thaksin as an economic adviser to Cambodia's government, announced Wednesday, soured already poor relations between the two neighbors, which have had small but sometimes deadly skirmishes over their land border in the past year.

The diplomatic dispute is closely tied to an ongoing political struggle within Thailand, where Thaksin is at the center of a political crisis and street protests that have gripped the country since 2006.

Thaksin was ousted in a 2006 military coup for alleged massive corruption and other charges. His supporters say he should be pardoned and returned to power. Since the coup, Thaksin has lived abroad to escape a corruption conviction and two-year prison sentence.

Help Cambodia, Thailand — ASEAN

November 7, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan on Saturday called on all Foreign Ministers of the 10-member regional bloc to help Cambodia and Thailand settle their bilateral dispute “amicably” as soon as possible.

Pitsuwan expressed concern over the escalation of tensions between Cambodia and Thailand, appealing to both countries to exercise maximum restraint.

In a letter to ASEAN Foreign Ministers, the ASEAN Secretary General said he has received many inquiries and expressions of concern from ASEAN’s Dialogue Partners and friends “over the apparent deterioration of relations between Cambodia and Thailand.” Both countries have recalled their Ambassadors earlier this week.

“We in ASEAN cannot afford to be seen as being so seriously divided prior to the upcoming Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders Meeting and the historic ASEAN-US Leaders Meeting in Singapore this month,” Surin said.

Citing the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) of 1976, Surin said all other Member States in ASEAN are obliged to offer assistance to help fellow Member States settle their bilateral disputes, even when the two disputing parties cannot agree to refer their dispute to any regional means of dispute settlement. (Madel Sabater)

INTERVIEW - Thai PM says no plan yet to seal border with Cambodia

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva speaks at Columbia University in New York September 22, 2009.  REUTERS/Natalie Behring/Files

 Sat Nov 7, 2009
By Yoko Nishikawa

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

TOKYO (Reuters) - Thailand said on Saturday it has no plan yet to seal its border with Cambodia despite a diplomatic row, but will seek to extradite fugitive former premier, Thaksin Shinawatra, if he goes to Cambodia to become an adviser.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva also told Reuters in an interview that Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej has been recovering from his illness and he expected the 81-year-old king to be discharged from hospital soon.

Thailand and Cambodia deepened a diplomatic row by recalling their ambassadors from each others' countries on Thursday after Phnom Penh made Thaksin an economic adviser.

The tit-for-tat spat threatens to worsen political tensions in Thailand by potentially giving Thaksin a base across the border from where he can direct his supporters and causing a diplomatic embarrassment for Abhisit.

"We did not talk," Abhisit said when asked if he had a chance to speak with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen while he was in Tokyo for a summit of five Mekong region nations and Japan, which brought him and the Cambodian leader together at an awkward time.

"We would seek (his) extradition," Abhisit added when asked about his government's response if Thaksin goes to Cambodia.

"We do not accept the view that this is a political case. Rather, it is a straight-forward application of our laws."

But asked if Bangkok would seal its border with Cambodia, Abhisit said, "At the moment, we don't have plans to do that."

Thaksin, the twice-elected billionaire who was deposed in a coup three years ago and has been living in exile to avoid corruption charges, still commands widespread support in rural areas and remains a force in Thai politics.

Abhisit stressed the dispute did not affect the two-day Japan-Mekong summit meeting that ended earlier in the day.

"We are very conscious that this is an issue that we should solve bilaterally and that we should not let this get in the way of multilateral cooperation. So we won't allow to affect ASEAN. We won't allow to affect a forum like this," he said.


Abhisit said Thailand's king, who has been in hospital since Sept. 19, was recovering and that he was performing his duties from the hospital.

The 81-year-old king, the world's longest serving monarch, is regarded as semi-divine by many of the country's 67 million people.

"He has recovered and is now staying to do physiotherapy. And soon we expect His Majesty to be discharged from the hospital," Abhisit said, adding that the timing of the king's release from hospital would be up to doctors.

The king's health is a sensitive topic in financial markets because he is seen as the sole unifying figure in a politically polarised country with a long history of coups and upheaval.

Abhisit said the king was still performing his duties in hospital. "We have laws that have been signed and have come to affect, for instance, the budget law."

BOT chief downplays concerns over Thai-Cambodian tension

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

BANGKOK, Nov 7 (TNA) – Bank of Thailand (BoT) Governor Tarisa Wattanagase on Friday downplayed concerns over the political tension between Thailand and Cambodia, saying it would not worsen significantly because both countries had forged good bilateral relations over a long period.

Thailand has downgraded its diplomatic ties with Cambodia following the formal appointment of convicted ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra as the Cambodian PM’s economic and personal advisor.

She said the political tension between the neighbouring countries might shake confidence among Thai investors in Cambodia, but the central bank projected it would not affect the bilateral ties as the two countries had maintained good relations for a long time.

“The political tension is the government-to-government problem. The people of both countries still have good relations with each other," she said.

Mrs Tarisa added the Thai economy had already bottomed out. The government had initiated investment projects in various fields and managed to implement its policies quickly.

With these factors and the strong economic fundamental, she said, the Thai economy began recovering in the second quarter of this year and continued picking up in the third quarter.

Based on data in the second and third quarter, she projected the Thai economy would continue recovering as could be witnessed by the improved exports and increased private investment.

Although the economic growth remains fragile, it should be seen as a good sign for the country’s economy, she said. (TNA)

FTI chief concerned with possible border trade closure

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

BANGKOK, Nov 7 (TNA) – Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) chairman Santi Vilassakdanont on Friday voiced concerns over the ongoing tension between Thailand and Cambodia, saying business people did not want to see the situation deteriorate and lead to the border trade closure.

Unless both countries are able to find a common solution on their own, they might be well-advised to accept a country with a neutral stance such as China or ASEAN to mediate a reconciliation of their differences.

He said that Thai nationals running businesses in Cambodia such as the hotel and hospitality industry, tourism, restaurants and textiles told him that they still do business in the country as usual.

However, they are afraid the tension between both neighbouring countries would heighten. In particular, it might lead to the border trade closure, which could benefit neither country.

At present, the border trade represents 80 per cent of the Thai-Cambodian trade value. Last year, the value of the border trade between the two countries reached Bt70 billion.

But in the first eight months of this year, border trade had declined by some 20 per cent to Bt36.70 billion due to global economic sluggishness. It is expected the trade value would be around Bt50 billion for this year.

Should the border trade be closed, he said, a large amount of goods would be smuggled into the country.

Consequently, he hoped the governments of both countries would accelerate talks to find a proper solution to the problem and believed they could settle it without a need to close bilateral trade.

Still, unless both countries are able to find a common solution, they might count on the country with a neutral stance such as China and ASEAN as a mediator to reconcile their conflicts. (TNA)

Storm-triggered landslide kills 13 in Vietnam

The storm and flooding that followed Tropical Storm Mirinae have left almost 130 people dead in Vietnam

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

HANOI — At least 13 people have been killed in a landslide in central Vietnam following storms and flooding that have now left almost 130 people dead, according to officials.

The 13 were killed and another person was seriously injured in the early hours of Friday in the coastal province of Quang Nam, local emergency official Vo Xuan Quang told AFP.

The landslide, triggered by rains that have lashed the country since Tropical Storm Mirinae hit on Monday, dumped thousands of tonnes of earth and mud on a group of gold miners, who were sleeping at the time, Quang said.

The storm and flooding that followed have left another 116 people dead, most of them in the country's easternmost province of Phu Yen.

Mirinae also killed two people in Vietnam's neighbour Cambodia and left 27 people dead in the Philippines, where thousands are still living in evacuation centres after a series of deadly storms this typhoon season.

Cambodian traders accepting cash only from Thais

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

ARANYAPRATHET, Nov 7 (TNA) -- Most Cambodian traders are now accepting cash only from their Thai counterparts as they closely monitor tensions between the two neighbouring countries after ambassadors have been recalled following the appointment of convicted former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as economic adviser by the Cambodian government.

Thai Deputy Commerce Minister Alongkorn Ponlaboot Saturday visited the key border district of Aranyaprathet and found that border trade was still lively as more than 9,000 Cambodian traders crossed the border for trading purposes or for employment at Thai firms.
However, most of the Cambodian traders would not offer credit to Thais traders but would accept only cash.

On the contrary, the number of Thai gamblers who usually cross to the casinos in the Cambodian border town of Poi Pet, opposite Aranyaprathet--usually more than 5,000 on typical weekend day--fell sharply Saturday due to concerns over the political situation. Less than 1,000 gamblers went there on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Santi Villassakdanon, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), speaking in Pattaya resort that most Thai businessmen operating in Cambodia worry that if the situation worsens, cross-border trade could close.

Cross-border trade between the two countries now accounts for about 80 per cent of the total trade amounting to approximately Bt40 billion annually.

Governments of the two countries must quickly negotiate to settle the dispute so that the private sector would not be affected, said Mr Santi.

In the northeastern province of Buri Ram bordering Cambodia, Ratchapol Tranakyos, chairman of the Buri Ram Chamber of Commerce, said the trade and tourism businesses between the two countries had already been affected as tourists were not confident of their safety, while traders slowed their purchases.

Mr Ratchapol said attempts by the Buri Ram chamber to open a permanent border checkpoint in Ban Kruat district aimed at boosting trade and investment would now have to be delayed until diplomatic relations between the two countries are restored. (TNA)

Diplomats not supporting Thailand's recall of Ambassador to Cambodia

(Posted by CAAI news Media)

According to the Bangkok Post on Saturday morning, foreign diplomats from several countries do not support Thailand's recall of their Ambassador to Cambodia. Thailand recalled its Ambassador on Thursday after the Cambodian government announced it was hiring deposed Thai ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra as an economic adviser.

A European diplomatic source even commented Thailand's recall of their Ambassador could cause significant damage to the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), especially if this stand-off is to continue. With ASEAN meeting this week and with representatives from both Thailand and Cambodia being in attendance the worry is this will affect ASEAN's ability to get things achieved.

Actually, Thailand's withdrawal of their Ambassador is not surprising, as diplomats themselves should be aware. When it comes to Cambodia, Thailand has a history of over-reacting, with the still-ongoing dispute about the 11th century temple a prime example. Troops massed on the Thai border and even some random shots were reported. This all over a temple that is patently on Cambodian ground and has been ruled by several international bodies as being the property of Cambodia. But, with Thailand having always treated Cambodia like a third-class citizen, it's not surprising their latest round of 'diplomacy' came to this.

As for ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, he is a master of manipulation and current Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is playing into his hands by reacting to every small thing he does. Abhisit though is a novice at politics and, rumor is, he is being controlled by other people more powerful in Thailand. If only Abhisit would ignore what Cambodia is doing, it would give Thaksin even less support. But with his anger over the Cambodian decision to hire Thaksin as an economic adviser, he is only elevating Thaksin's importance and keeping his name in front of the millions of people in Thailand who still support Thaksin.

Thailand itself has asked for foreign governments to pressure Cambodia to extradite Thaksin when he appears in the country but, as diplomats are already saying Thailand is going about this the wrong way, and as many countries didn't think Thaksin should have been deposed by a military coup in the first place, it's highly unlikely Thailand will get much support for this request.

Bangkok Got Angry and Downgraded the Cambodian-Thai Diplomatic Relations to the Lowest Level – Friday, 6.11.2009

Posted on 7 November 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 637

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

“Immediately after the Cambodian government appointed Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra as Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen’s and the government’s advisor, Bangkok was angry and summoned its ambassador back to Thailand as a so-called diplomatic retaliation. The Thai ambassador left Cambodia in the night of 5 November 2009. In response, the Minister of the Council of Ministers, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, summoned the Cambodian ambassador to return to Phnom Penh. He consideres that this is a normal reciprocity measure between government and government. Regarding this diplomatic dispute, there has not been any new report about border tensions between the two countries.

“Relating to Thailand recalling its ambassador, Mr. Sok An said that this is not the cutting off of diplomatic ties. When Thailand sends its ambassador to Cambodia again, we will send our ambassador to Thailand. He explained that there is no problem in the relations between both countries’ citizens and in commerce.

“He noted that Thailand did so, following a demand from the yellow-shirt group [of government supporters].

“He explained also that it is an internal affairs of Cambodia to nominate Thaksin Shinawatra, and Cambodia had appointed foreigners as advisers before, for example the current president of South Korea. He had also been an adviser of Samdech Dekchor.

“He criticized that Thailand has hurt Cambodia by sending troops to invade the Preah Vihear border areas in Cambodian territory. The second point is that when Cambodia proposed to list the Preah Vihear Temple as a world heritage site, Thailand had sent partisans to disturb it.

“Contrastingly, [Thai] Deputy Prime Minister Sutheb Thaugsubanasked, ‘What would Cambodia think if Thailand nominated [the opposition party president] Mr. Sam Rainsy as adviser?’ Mr. Sok An answered, ‘Cambodia would welcome such a nomination, because Cambodia has a citizen appointed by foreign country. Therefore, Thai people should be happy as one of their citizens is named adviser.’

“The decision of the Bangkok government to summon their diplomatic official like this, pushed the diplomatic ties between both countries to fall to a terrible level, threatening even political, economic, and cultural relation between both countries, as well as the solidarity in ASEAN.

“Prime Minister Abhisit Vijjajiva said that Thailand summoned their ambassador back to Bangkok as a sign of first diplomatic retaliation toward Cambodia for appointing Thaksin Shinawara as advisor, and for rejecting to extradite him. He said that Thailand wants Cambodia to know the dissatisfaction of the Thai people.

“Immigration officials at the Phnom Penh International Airport said that the Thai ambassador boarded the plane at around 9:00 p.m. to travel back to Bangkok.

“Political analysts said that the decision of the Bangkok government will make ASEAN to be viewed as a quite fractioned institution, making the imitative to establish the ASEAN community by 2015 to be in hazard, and it is necessary that thereis a regional mechanism to restore the situation.

Cambodian Troops Are Prepared to Defend the Country from an Invasion

“At the border, the commander of special Intervention Unit 3, Mr. Srey Dek, said that the Cambodian troops are always on alert. He added, ‘If they dare to enter only half a millimeter, we will attack (open fire) immediately. But he said that so far, there is nothing abnormal.

“The Banteay Meanchey governor, Mr. Ung Oeung, said that the border situation remains normal. But there might be some psychological war coming relating to border closings. But there is nothing visible yet.

Thaksin Is Happy while Abhisit Is Pale

“The Thai former prime minister, Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra, said on Thursday that he accepted the position as economic advisor of the Royal Government of Cambodia, and he expressed appreciation toward Prime Minister Hun Sen for offering this honorable position. He said on his website, ‘I can refresh my brain while I am not yet able to serve the Thai people. I will ask for the permission from Thai people to provide economic advice to the Cambodian government, based on the appointment by King Sihamoni, until I can go back to my country. In fact, I have already become adviser of a government. I accept this position in order to keep my brain to remain fresh, otherwise it would become lame if I don’t keep it up to obtain new ideas and new developments. I want to work with the Thai people, but I cannot. The Thai government does not even allow me to carry a Thai passport.’

“Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra added, ‘Our neighbor is not an enemy. We must be close to each other forever. It is good that we are friends.’

“In the mean time, a legal adviser of Mr. Thaksin, [the former minister of foreign affairs who resigned after the high court found he had violated the Thai constitution] Mr. Noppadon Pattama, spoke to the former prime minister, regarding the issue that Thaksin Shinawatra feels that he has received a great honor, and he will provide advice on how to solve Cambodia’s economic problems and overcome poverty.

“Mr. Noppadon Pattama added that it is not necessary that Mr. Thaksin comes to live in Cambodia, because he can give advice through the telephone or the Internet. He said, ‘Thaksin Shinawatra has no plan to go to Cambodia at this time. Therefore, the government needs not worry or feel afraid, because it is not a political affair or seeking asylum. Mr. Hun Sen decided to appoint Thaksin, because he sees his value and ability.’

“Nevertheless, Thailand does not understand it as Mr. Noppadon does. On 5 November 2009, Thailand summoned their ambassador back to their country immediately as a move of disapproval of Cambodia for offering a position to Thaksin.

“The Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vijjajiva said to journalist, ‘We have summoned our ambassador as the first diplomatic retaliation toward the Cambodian government so as to let the Thai people’s dissatisfaction known. The announcement of the Cambodian governments disrespects the legal system, and does influence the feeling of the Thai public.

“Abhisit said also that [Thai] aid for Cambodia will be suspended also, but the border between both countries are still open, and the relations between the people will not be affected.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5040, 6.11.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 6 November 2009