Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Thailand and Cambodia border clashes escalate


VIA caai

Up to 50,000 people flee as fighting over disputed Preah Vihear temple spreads, despite US-backed ceasefire negotiations

Associated Press
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 26 April 2011

Children who fled the fighting wait for food at an evacuation centre in Surin province, north-east Thailand. Photograph: AP

The worst fighting in years between Thailand and Cambodia has spread, with the neighbouring countries exchanging artillery fire at a disputed temple east of where 12 soldiers were killed and nearly 50,000 people have fled in recent days.

The fighting along the border near the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple on Tuesday followed unsuccessful international attempts to secure a lasting ceasefire after four days of largely long-distance artillery battles at two other temples about 100 miles (160km) to the west.

Preah Vihear was the scene of four days of deadly fighting in February and is the most prominent symbol of a border dispute between the two south-east Asian countries that goes back generations. It has long stirred nationalist sentiment on both sides of the frontier.

The latest round of fighting began on Friday around the 1,000-year-old Ta Moan and Ta Krabey temples, which are on territory claimed by both countries, and in the days since at least 12 soldiers on both sides have been killed and 50,000 villagers forced to flee.

Both sides have accused each other of starting the battles.

The US on Monday threw its support behind the efforts of Indonesia, current chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, to mediate an end to the conflict.

The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said Washington was deeply concerned about the violence. In a statement, she urged both sides to exercise restraint and act to reduce tensions. Clinton said US officials were talking to officials from both countries.

Thailand has so far rejected outside intervention, saying the two countries have to resolve the dispute alone. But on Sunday, the Thai foreign minister, Kasit Piromya, indicated that Bangkok might accept Indonesian military observers at the border, a proposal already accepted by Phnom Penh.

That would likely call for behind the scenes approval from Thailand's military, which so far has effectively vetoed the plan. Some have accused the Thai army, which staged a coup in 2006 and continues to hold influence in domestic politics, of using the border dispute to raise its profile ahead of general elections expected by early July.

In recent years, political groups on both sides have accused their opponents of using the border issues to stir nationalistic fever and further their own domestic political agendas.

Tuesday's fighting erupted as Cambodia misinterprets Thai force's exercise: official


via CAAI

English.news.cn   2011-04-26

BANGKOK, April 26 (Xinhua) -- Thai Royal Army spokesman Col. Sansern Kaewkamnerd said on Tuesday that another fresh round of gunfire exchange took place nearby Preah Vihear temple at about 1. 30 p.m. as Cambodia misinterpreted Thai Air Force's military exercise.

Col. Sansern said Cambodian troops misinterpreted the Air Force ' s military exercise which included flying a fleet of F-16 fighter jets and started opening fire at Thai soldiers. After exchanging gunfire, cannon firing followed.

"The Air Force was conducting military exercise as usual," Col. Sansern told Xinhua by telephone but refused to elaborate further when the exercise would finish.

The fire exchange in the disputed area around the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple at the border of Thailand's northeastern Si Sa Ket province finally ended at around 2 p.m.

Moreover, according to the army spokesman, another skirmish involving exchanges of small arms and heavy weapons also occurred at the border around Ta Muen Thom temple in northeastern Surin province at about 2.30 p.m., marking the fifth straight day of deadly fighting since April 22.

However, all fighting have already stopped, Col. Sansern said.

Initially, when the sound of fierce exchanges was first heard, the village head of Tambon Sao Thong Chai was preparing to evacuate the residents but as both sides stopped firing, people still remained in their houses, the spokesman added.

There is no additional report on further casualties on Thai side, Col. Sansern said.

The latest five-day border clash between Thailand and Cambodia has killed five Thai troops and injured some 41 without civilian casualties. Since the first flare-up erupted on last Friday, over 30,000 people living along the border of Surin and Buriram provinces fled their homes to stay at safer shelters.

Editor: Zhang Xiang




Is the Thai-Cambodia standoff a conflict of convenience?

A Cambodian soldier stands guard near the Cambodia-Thailand border in Oddar Meanchey province on April 26, 2011, amid tension following deadly exchanges of fire across the border. Cambodia accused Thailand on April 25, of damaging ancient jungle temples at the centre of their bloodiest fighting since a bitter border dispute flared up almost three years ago. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)


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Media, experts suspect darker motives behind bloody border clash

Patrick WinnApril 26, 2011

A cursory review of the deadly tit-for-tat shelling along the Thai-Cambodia border suggests two nations are killing each other to claim grounds surrounding an ancient Hindu temple.

However, as I recently wrote, "the two nations are ostensibly warring over less than two square miles of scrubby land. But this disputed territory — devoid of gems, oil or any valuable resource — has also become the focal point of a struggle to preserve national honor and save political face."

Are there even darker motives afoot?

Op-eds and reports in the Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine and The Economist are now openly suggesting that the Thai military may be whipping up conflict in a wag-the-dog game to stoke a national crisis and thus create context for calling off coming elections.

The army's favored party, now in power, could possibly lose the election. Victory for the opposition could spell out amnesty for fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, the populist mogul minister bounced by the military in a 2006 coup. That scenario is unimaginably horrid to the powerful military figures who booted Thaksin in the first place.

Wagging the dog only works if the dog doesn't know it's being wagged, right? If Western media outlets were to uncover this alleged game, wouldn't this subterfuge fail?

Only if Thai voters read English-language outlets such as the Wall Street Journal. And, for the most part, they don't.

Thai papers, which are less apt to challenge the military, offer a blow-by-blow account of Thai soldiers defending their ground and sustaining attacks from "Khmer troops."

In one prominent Thai daily, Matichon, we have the foreign minister declaring that "patience has run out" and that "we won't accept living under Khmer bullets anymore." Competitor Thai Rath has accounts of Cambodian soldiers "violating territory." Photos show wounded Thai troops wheeled off on stretchers and displaced villagers squatting on shelter floors.

We also have the deputy Thai prime minister sounding downright exasperated at speculation the election might be cancelled.

"I've had to answer this question everyday, whether there will be an election or not," Thailand's deputy PM, Suthep Thaugsuban, told Matichon. "It's positively clear. I've yet to convey anything that would create misunderstanding among our brothers and sisters."

Meanwhile, Thailand's interior minister confirms that, actually, the clashes may prevent the parliament dissolution that would precede new elections. And Thaksin's camp has even had to deny a wild conspiracy that the self-exiled mogul is secretly commanding Cambodian soldiers to attack Thailand.

Is the military fighting to preserve Thailand's territory and honor? Or is it staging conflict to upend a coming election?

The answer depends on where you get your news.

PM orders review of ties with P.Penh


via CAAI

Published: 26/04/2011 at 03:25 PM
Online news:

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Tuesday instructed all ministries to review their cooperation with Cambodia in various fields in the wake of the continuing border clashes between soldiers of the two countries.

Acting government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said the cabinet passed a three-part resolution:

- Retaliatory militarily action to push Cambodian soldiers out of the disputed area.

- Diplomatic efforts to bring Cambodia back to bilateral talks.

- All ministries are to review work plans and mechanisms involving cooperation with Cambodia.

Mr Panitan said the government has important evidence to be presented in talks to bring about an end to the conflict.

The evidence will also be used to explain the situation to the international community.

He believed the siutation would improve after the leaders of Thailand and Cambodia meet at an Asean meeting in Indonesia next week. Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya also has an appointment to meet with Asean chairman Marty Natalegawa on April 28.

The government will continue to provide security for the people and take steps to prevent the conflict from escalating further, although Cambodia has shown the intention to do otherwise, he said.

Mr Panitan stressed that the government and the military do not have a conflict of policy.

Even when it becomes a caretaker government following a House dissolution, it will be able to keep the situation under control, he added.

UN chief calls for ceasefire between Cambodia, Thailand


via CAAI

26th April 2011

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Cambodia and Thailand Saturday to exercise maximum restraint and take immediate measures to achieve a ceasefire.

Ban was troubled by reports of renewed fighting in the past two days between Cambodian and Thai troops along the two countries' border. The

fighting has reportedly claimed numerous lives from both sides, according to a statement issued by Ban's spokesman.

"The secretary-general ... also believes that the dispute cannot be resolved by military means and urges Cambodia and Thailand to engage in serious dialogue to find a lasting solution," the statement said.

Ban had been encouraged by initial signs of progress in strengthening bilateral mechanisms to deal with the dispute between the two neighbours, it said.

This is the second consecutive day of military clashes between Cambodian and Thai troops in the disputed border area after Friday's clashes that cost at least 6 lives and injured over a dozen, forcing thousands of both sides' locals to flee home.

The latest violence occurred two months after a deadly clash on Feb.

4-7 at the disputed border area next to the World Heritage site Preah Vihear temple, an age-old row between Thailand and Cambodia.

Source: GNA

AKP - The Agence Kampuchea Press


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Cambodia’s Diplomatic Note over Thai Repeated Aggressions

Phnom Penh, April 26, 2011 AKP –

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Kingdom of Cambodia sent today a diplomatic note to the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh regarding further violation of Cambodian territorial integrity by Thailand’s armed forces, on Apr. 25 in the area of Ta Mone and Ta Krabei Temples.

The following is the full diplomatic note:

Statement of the Spokesman of the Ministry of National Defense

Phnom Penh, April 26, 2011 AKP –

The spokesman of the Ministry of National Defense has issued a statement to update on the situation at the frontline.

The following is the full statement dated today:


Indonesian Foreign Minister Sends Letter to UNSC President over Cambodia-Thailand Border Dispute

Phnom Penh, April 26, 2011 AKP –

The Indonesian Foreign Minister H.E. Dr. R.M. Marty M. Natalegawa has addressed a letter to President of the UN Security Council Mr. Néstor Osorio regarding the Cambodian-Thai border clashes.

The full letter dated Apr. 24 reads as follows:


Cambodian NA Delegation Returns Home

Phnom Penh, April 26, 2011 AKP –

A Cambodian high-ranking parliamentarian delegation led by Samdech Akka Moha Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin, President of the National Assembly, returned home on Sunday after attending the 124th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly in Panama.

The delegation was welcomed at Phnom Penh International Airport by H.E. Nguon Nhel and H.E. Say Chhum, respectively first and second NA Vice Presidents and other NA officials.

Samdech Heng Samrin has delivered a speech at the opening ceremony of the assembly attended by 1,300 members of Parliament and observers from 150 countries around the world, said Ms. Lork Kheng, a member of the 8th NA Commission.

The 124th IPU Assembly particularly focused on peace and international security issues, including the monitoring and consolidation of parliament’s power, as well as the participation in the elections with a free and fair manner, and the punishment of those who commit violence acts during the elections.

Cambodia has been appointed to chair the ASEAN+3 group meeting for the 125th IPU Assembly scheduled to be held at the end of 2011 in Switzerland.

The Cambodian high-ranking NA parliamentarian delegation has visited the Panama Canal, a historic site and an important economic corridor of Panama. –AKP

Article in Khmer by PAL Song
Article in English by SOKMOM Nimul


Information Minister Urges for Responding to Problems in Localities with Journalists and Citizen

Phnom Penh, April 26, 2011 AKP –

Information Minister H.E. Khieu Kanharith urged the public officials to have accountability and get ready in 24-hour-clock to respond to all problems happening in the localities with journalists and citizen.

The minister made the comments, while presiding over a workshop on “Improvement Outreach, Public Relation and Information Strategies on Sub-National Level” held here on April 25, which was co-organized by the Ministry of Information, the Ministry of Interior and Konrad Adenauer-Stiftung.

The source information can be received from newspapers, radio, television, electronic media and those who are responsible for the news information, he said.

He also raised some issues relating to the democracy with the participation from the citizen, the political parties and the civil society, an access to the information and the freedom to get the information.

The seminar was attended by the Information officials and officials from the provinces and cities in the country. –AKP

By THOU Poeu


Vietnamese Journalists To Help Disseminate Cambodia’s Tourism Potential to Their Country

Phnom Penh, April 26, 2011 AKP –

Vietnamese journalists and some travel agencies pledged to help disseminate Cambodia’s tourism potential to their country.

The remarks have been made here recently by Mr. Tran Doan The Duy, Vice President of Vietravel and head of a Vietnamese delegation during the meeting with H.E. Sam Prumnea, Acting Minister of Tourism.

He added that this was the second time that Vietnamese journalists came to learn about Cambodia’s tourism potential.

In reply, H.E. Sam Prumnea briefed the Vietnamese reporters on the country’s tourism, saying that there were some 460,000 Vietnamese tourists among 2.5 million foreign visitors to Cambodia in 2010.

For the first two months of this year, Cambodia received around 520,000 foreign tourists including 80,000 Vietnamese, he said.

The acting tourism minister added that Cambodia is expected to attract some 2.8 million foreign visitors in 2011.

The 20-member group of Vietnamese journalists visited Cambodia from Apr. 21 to 25. –AKP

By LIM Nary


Cambodia Licenses a Private Company to Install a Telephone Network for Prisoners

Phnom Penh, April 26, 2011 AKP –

The General Department of Prisons of the Ministry of Interior has granted a private company to invest some US$8 million in installation telephone network for prisoners in the country.

The agreement was signed here yesterday by Mr. Phou Se Tong, Director General of TPL Holding Company and Mr. Kuy Bun Sorn, Director General of Interior Ministry’s General Department of Prisons.

The telephone network will be installed in order to facilitate the prisoners and their families to communicate each other under digital technology observation. –AKP

By KHAN Sophirom


Statement of Cambodia’s Ministry of National Defense over the Situation at the Frontline

Phnom Penh, April 26, 2011 AKP –

The following is the Statement of the Cambodian Ministry of National Defense over the situation at the frontline:


The Ongoing Thai Invading Offensives Have Displaced Ten of Thousands of Cambodian Innocent People

Phnom Penh, April 26, 2011 AKP –

As of 25 April, 2011, Cambodian displaced people are flocking to the districts of Samrong and Banteay Ampil, Oddar Meanchey province, according to the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Office of the Council of Ministers.

They are fleeing in ten of thousands escaping the ongoing Thai act of aggression against both Cambodian military and civilian targets. Thai heavy artilleries have been pounding civilian villages as far as 20 km deep into Cambodian territory.

According to the latest official figure released by the Governor of Oddar Meanchey province at 12:00 pm today, the numbers of refuges are standing at 22,385 people scattering at various villages and public buildings. The number of displaced people is expected to increase in the coming hours and days as the unprovoked and premeditated attacks by Thai troops are still storming into the said Cambodian areas.

Those displaced people are being sheltered at various public buildings and villages in temporary camps provided by the Oddar Meanchey provincial authority, the National Committee for Disaster Management and Cambodian Red Cross. –AKP


U.S. Expresses Concern over Cambodia-Thailand Border Dispute

Phnom Penh, April 26, 2011 AKP –

“The United States remains deeply concerned about clashes between security forces along the Thailand-Cambodia border,” said on Monday U.S. Secretary of State Mrs. Hillary Clinton in a press statement.

“We strongly urge both sides to exercise restraint, refrain from provocative acts, and immediately take all necessary steps to reduce tensions and avoid further conflict. The loss of life, displacement of civilians, and damage to property is regrettable,” she said.

“We support the efforts of Indonesia in their role as chair of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to work with both countries to reach a resolution. The United States is also engaging with Thai and Cambodian officials directly on this matter. We continue to urge the Royal Thai Government and Royal Government of Cambodia to resolve their disputes peacefully to help strengthen regional stability,” stressed Mrs. Hillary Clinton. –AKP


DPM Sok An Calls for More Training of Boules Athletes

Phnom Penh, April 26, 2011 AKP –

Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Sok An, Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers, told officials of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports on Apr. 22 that Cambodia needs to improve training for its boules athletes to gain more medals in overseas matches.

Dr. Sok An, also President of the Federation of Boules of Cambodia, said Cambodian boules players have gained the largest numbers of medals of Cambodian athletes competing in international games. Cambodian boules athletes received 26 gold medals, 40 silver medals and 40 bronze medals since 1995, according to the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers.

“We are very proud of our athletes who won medals from boules matches,” Dr. Sok An told officials of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, and four children who will join the first World Children Sports Games (WCSG) to be held in Ankara, Turkey, from Apr. 24 to 30, 2011.

Dr. Sok An said, “we must improve the training of our boules athletes to enable us to gain more medals. The ministry has built nine training centres nationwide so far.”

Thirty-four countries will send athletes to compete in the WCSG, said Cambodian sports officials. –AKP


U.S. Welcomes Investment Relations With Cambodia

Phnom Penh, April 26, 2011 AKP –

A U.S. Embassy’s officer in Phnom Penh welcomed the progress of investment relations between Cambodia and the U.S.

Mr. Mark L. Wening, Public Affair Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh said the U.S. is encouraged by the economic growth that Cambodia has achieved in the last several years and the appreciative support that the Royal Government of Cambodia has provided to foreign investment.

He said there are a number of American firms successfully operating in Cambodia already and many more who are considering this market because of the attractive investment climate, relatively low cost of labor, and Cambodia’s strategic location in the heart of ASEAN.

We are hopeful that, as the rule of law is further strengthened in Cambodia, more foreign investment will flow into the country to support economic growth, he said.

During the first quarter of the year, American investment in Cambodia is number one among the foreign investors with approximately US$94 million.

In January, there were two American investment companies. The first one was Tower Master Company limited with its 90 percent share, other 10 percent from domestic investor and Malaysia investor with total investment capital US$101,674,000, and another company in manufacturing US$3.6 million. –AKP

By KHAN Sophirom

Police Blotter: 26 Apr 2011


via CAAi

Tuesday, 26 April 2011 15:00Phak Seangly

Murder suspected in husband’s ‘death
A 39-yea-old Vietnamese man died at Calmette hospital on Friday after his 29-year-old wife allegedly attacked him while he was drunk in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district. Police said the Vietnamese wife, a beautician, brought her husband, a fan repairman, to the hospital and claimed that he had committed suicide. Police examined the corpse and determined that he has suffered a critical injury to the head and questioned the wife, who they suspect of foul play. Police then sent her to the court.

Motorbike robbery suspect in custody
ONE of three suspects was arrested by police in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district, accused of attacking a 22-year-old man and stealing his motorbike. Police said the victim and his girlfriend went for a walk on Thursday and were followed by three men who attacked the victim with rocks and stole his vehicle. Police managed to arrest one of the suspects, a 19-year-old man, who was then sent to court after the motorbike was returned.

‘Robber’ taken in after warrant issued
BANTEAY Meanchey’s Poipet town police arrested a 27-year-old man on Wednesday after the Phnom Penh Municipal Court issued a warrant for his arrest, accusing him of committing a robbery. Following the arrest, police searched the suspect’s home for a gun that he allegedly used in a robbery, but found nothing. Police then sent the suspect to court.

Arrest made after city market robbery
TWO women were arrested in Boeung Keng Kang market on Saturday after they were accused of stealing a mobile phone and a purse from a woman in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district. The victim said that the two women pretended to bump into her, then stole the items and attempted to escape. The victim shouted for help and a security guard stopped the suspects, before turning them over to police. The stolen property was returned to the victim.

Boy detained over guesthouse robbery
A 13-YEAR-OLD boy was arrested on Friday after he allegedly stole two television sets from a guesthouse that had been closed on April 3 over drug trafficking allegations in Banteay Meanchey’s Poipet town. Police said the boy broke into the closed guesthouse with accomplices. Around 10 of the 38 rooms in the establishment were looted. Police are now searching for the other suspects.

Peng Heng bank scrutinised


via CAAI

Tuesday, 26 April 2011 15:01Mary Kozlovski

The chairwoman and majority shareholder of a specialised bank in Phnom Penh will be removed from her position if convicted of money laundering offences in Canada, officials from the National Bank of Cambodia said yesterday.

Cambodian-born Lech Leng Ky, chairwoman and majority shareholder at Peng Heng SME Ltd – a specialised bank operating out of Phnom Penh – has been on trial in Montreal alongside her husband, Chun Sy Veng.

The pair are charged with allegedly processing drug money through what Canadian prosecutors have described as “a sophisticated money-laundering system”, Canadian daily The Globe and Mail reported last month.

Phan Ho, secretary-general of the NBC’s Financial Intelligence Unit, said yesterday that the case had drawn the attention of Cambodian banking authorities.

“We are going to conduct on-site investigation of Peng Heng after receiving the final decision of the court in Canada,” Phan Ho said.

“If they [Chun Sy Veng and Lech Leng Ky] are convicted, the NBC will take action. If Lech Leng Ky is guilty, she will be removed from being shareholder of the bank.”


We are going to conduct an on-site investigation of Peng Heng after receiving the final decision of the court


Phan Ho said that he believed Peng Heng’s other shareholders, Chun Justin and Chun Nelly, were the children of Lech Leng Ky and Chun Sy Veng and could be removed as shareholders as well if their parents are convicted. “It’s related because they are their children,” he said.

Nguon Sokha, director-general and spokeswoman at the NBC, said that the banking supervision department was also looking into Peng Heng. “If there is something in this case that is against the legal framework that requires the intervention of the NBC, then the banking supervision department will take action as required,” she said.

Lech Leng Ky and Chun Sy Veng previously ran the Credit Bank of Cambodia, which was closed down by the government in 1995 amid allegations of money laundering.

Despite this fact, Peng Heng received a specialised banking licence from the NBC in 2001.

John Brinsden, vice-chairman of ACLEDA bank, said yesterday that the regulatory requirements for starting a bank in Cambodia were far more rigorous now than in previous years.

“Such a person [as Lech Leng Ky] with a background like that, convicted or not, would have a much harder time getting approval for a banking licence” today, Brinsden said.

Pech Vannthoeun, general manager of Peng Heng SME,could not be reached for comment yesterday. He previously told The Post that Lech Leng Ky, a 70-percent shareholder, was not involved in the bank’s day-to-day operations.

Border fight rages on

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Cambodians displaced by fighting along the Thai-Cambodia border take refuge at Tham Mayuth pagoda in Samroang town yesterday in Oddar Meanchey province.


via CAAI

Tuesday, 26 April 2011 15:02Cheang Sokha and Thomas Miller

Oddar Meanchey province

The death toll has risen to 12 following a fourth straight day of fighting along the Thai-Cambodian border near Oddar Meanchey province, with negotiations between the two sides stalled in the face of the bloodiest fighting the Kingdom has seen in years.

Clashes broke out again late yesterday evening and lasted more than one hour as both sides exchanged heavy artillery shells and gunfire.

Roth Sopheaphal, a soldier at the front line, said the latest clash broke out at about 6pm at Ta Moan temple and then spread to Ta Krabey temple, about 10 kilometres away.

There were no reports of casualties from last night’s clash as The Post went to press. The conflict, which both countries accuse one another of starting, has thus far left at least 12 soldiers dead – seven Cambodians and five Thais – and dozens wounded over four days. One Cambodian soldier remains missing and thousands of civilians on both sides of the border have been displaced.

Late night fighting on Sunday took the lives of one Cambodian and one Thai soldier, officials and troops said yesterday. No civilian casualties have been reported.

The Ministry of Defence issued a statement claiming that two Thai military jets had flown yesterday over the hilly jungle along the border that houses the temples of Ta Moan and Ta Krabey, centuries-old sites that have been flashpoints for fighting since it first broke out on Friday. The Defence Ministry also said Thailand had continued shelling Cambodian villages as far as 22 kilometres from the border.

Veerachon Sukondhadhpatipak, deputy spokesman for the Thai Royal Army, said he had no report of Thai planes flying over the border area.

Meanwhile, diplomatic manoeuvring to resolve the crisis stalled yesterday after Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa called off planned meetings with his counterparts in Phnom Penh and Bangkok.

Ever since similar clashes that erupted in February near Preah Vihear temple, about 150 kilometres from the fighting in Oddar Meanchey, Natalegawa has been working with officials from both countries in an attempt to mediate the dispute.

Bernard Sinaja, chief of the political section at the Indonesian embassy in Phnom Penh, said yesterday that the meetings would be rescheduled “as soon as possible”. Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Cambodian Foreign Ministry, said he had not been given a reason for the abrupt cancellation.

Later yesterday, the Bangkok Post reported that Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya had said he would meet Natalegawa and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Cambodia and Thailand dug into their respective positions on whether to allow Indonesian military observers to monitor the border area and ensure a ceasefire. The two countries accepted the observer proposal during negotiations in February, but Thailand has since been reluctant to finalise the arrangement, earning criticism from Cambodian officials.

“If there is no third party to monitor a permanent ceasefire, the [Thais] will continue to invade Cambodia… and accuse us of initiating the fighting,” Koy Kuong said.

Veerachon would not say under what conditions Thailand would allow outside observers to monitor a ceasefire, saying the issue was “quite complicated” and should be settled bilaterally.

“All the agreement[s] should be made through the bilateral level,” he said.


Inflation fueled by rising global oil prices

Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun
A man pumps petrol into a car at a Petronas station on Mao Tse Toung Boulevard in Phnom Penh yesterday.


via CAAI

Tuesday, 26 April 2011 15:01May Kunmakara

Prices in the first quarter increased an average of 3.6 percent on the same quarter last year, driven largely by increases in international fuel prices, according to experts.

Price inflation in Cambodia bottomed out in late 2010, and has gradually been increasing since, according to Olaf Unterroberdoerster, a senior economist at the International Monetary Fund.

“However, at 3.6 percent on average in the first quarter of 2011, inflation has been moderate compared to Cambodia’s neighbours,” he wrote.

Vietnam’s consumer prices climbed 17.51 percent in April from a year earlier, according to figures released Sunday by the Hanoi-based General Statistics Office – the highest increase since December 2008.

The IMF forecasts Cambodia’s inflation to increase to an average of 5 percent in 2011 – from an average 4 percent in 2010 – mainly on the back of rising fuel prices, according to Olaf Unterroberdoerster.

“With inflation pressures on the rise it will be important that policy makers remain vigilant and maintain a prudent monetary and fiscal policy stance.”

Brent crude traded yesterday above US$124.30 on international markets, from below $87 one year ago.

NIS Deputy Director General Khin Song said fuel prices were a main reason behind the overall increase, though most prices remained relatively stable. The NIS-compiled Consumer Price Index shows fuel prices were a large factor in the price rise, increasing 3.08 percent on average in the first quarter compared year on year, while prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages increased 3.87 percent in the same period.

Other large gains were the price of transport – up an annualised 5.04 percent on the first quarter – and restaurants and hotels costs up 5.66 percent.

“This quarter, the speed of inflation increased a bit, but it is not noticeable – we are on track to keep inflation under 5 percent,” said Khin Song.

Business Research Institute for Cambodia Chief Economist Suzuki Hiroshi wrote that the Consumer Price Index has been stable, though he added domestic prices would likely continue increasing in the coming months.

“I notice that prices increase a little bit [in the second quarter] – that’s seasonal,” he said. “However, I don’t think it will be higher than five percent.”


Displaced civilians facing uncertainty

Cambodian soldiers on the move through Oddar Meanchey province yesterday.
Displaced children seek refuge at Tham Mayuth pagoda in Samroang town yesterday.
A Cambodian soldier injured during the fighting recovers in Samroang town on Sunday.
Sovan Philong


via CAAI

Tuesday, 26 April 2011 15:02Cheang Sokha and James O’Toole

Oddar Meanchey province

They came in a convoy down the dirt road that leads away from the Thai border in Oddar Meanchey’s Banteay Ampil district – Cambodian villagers, their belongings piled onto tractors, fleeing the fierce fighting that has left at least 12 troops dead since last week.

Evacuees have gathered thoughout Oddar Meanchey’s Samroang town, roughly 45 kilometres from the border – in pagodas, outside government offices and at the O’Russei primary school. Others have gathered in villages in nearby Banteay Ampil district, where the Cambodian Red Cross has set up relief services to go along with those in Samroang.

Uy Sam Ath, director of the disaster management department at the Cambodian Red Cross, said yesterday evening that a total of 22,384 people in Oddar Meanchey had been displaced by the fighting, with 11,558 taking refuge in Samroang town and another 10,826 in Banteay Ampil. At least nine homes in Banteay Ampil district have been destroyed by shells from Thailand, he added.

Luon An, deputy governor of Oddar Meanchey, said significant numbers of villagers were still streaming into the relief sites yesterday after fighting first broke out on Friday.

“We expect that the numbers will continue to increase,” he said while overseeing relief operations in Samroang town’s Samroang pagoda.

At nearby Wat Tham Mayuth, also in Samroang, displaced villagers set up tents and hammocks on the pagoda grounds and left laundry out to dry on the railings of the temple. Vendors had arranged makeshift stands selling food and drinks as displaced residents queued up to receive medicine from a mobile clinic.

Chhun Samy, 67, said she and other residents of Banteay Ampil’s Por Thivong village had fled their homes on Friday immediately after the clashes broke out, leaving their belongings behind.

“We left and brought nothing with us,” she said, looking after three young children nearby. “I don’t know when we will be allowed to go back home.”

Oun Vy, chief of Banteay Ampil’s Kokmon commune, said Sunday that nearly all of his constituents had fled the fighting, but would not be able to stay away from their homes for long because they needed to cultivate their crops.

“99 percent of the villagers here are farmers, and this is the time they need to farm, but they are fleeing bombs instead,” he said.

Families of evacuees have received 20-kilogramme bags of rice along with cookware and blankets from the Cambodian Red Cross. Uy Sam Ath said his organisation had the situation under control, but could have difficulty providing for all those displaced in the face of prolonged fighting.

“We have the capacity to cope, but if the Thai soldiers continue [attacking], we have to appeal for help,” he said.

Along the road to the border in Kokmon commune, stores were shuttered and stray dogs scampered among abandoned homes. The commune’s Kork Svay village faced a barrage of shelling on Saturday, Oun Vy said, destroying one home and forcing out nearly all residents who had not yet fled.

With negotiations to end clashes at a standstill, the thousands displaced on both sides of the border now have little to do but wait.

“I don’t want to stay here much longer because I don’t want to be away from home,” said Banteay Ampil resident Keo Sokdana, taking refuge at Samroang’s Wat Tham Mayuth. “There is no fighting there, but we are afraid of the bombs.”

Rainsy sentenced to two years

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Sam Rainsy speaks during a press conference in 2009.

IN DATES Sam Rainsy in court

April, 2008
During a commemoration at Choeung Ek killing fields, Sam Rainsy accuses Hor Namhong of having been a chief of the Boeung Trabek prison under the Khmer Rouge.

December, 2008
French civil court finds Sam Rainsy guilty of defaming Hor Namhong and fines him a symbolic €1 fine for the same allegations in his book Rooted in Stone.

October, 2009
Sam Rainsy goes into self-imposed exile in France after charges are laid against him relating to his uprooting posts demarcating the Cambodia-Vietnam border in Svay Rieng, which he claimed encroached on Cambodian territory.

January, 2010
Sam Rainsy is found guilty of racial incitement and destroying border demarcation posts. He is sentenced to two years in jail and fined US$1,927.

September, 2010
Sam Rainsy is found guilty in absentia of altering public documents and disinformation over maps he produced of Cambodia’s border with Vietnam in Svay Rieng. He is sentenced to 10 years jail and fined US$14,000.

via CAAI

Tuesday, 26 April 2011 15:02Meas Sokchea and David Boyle

Embattled opposition leader Sam Rainsy now faces a total of 14 years in prison should he return to the Kingdom after being handed a two-year jail term yesterday in a defamation case brought by Foreign Minister Hor Namhong.

Sam Rainsy was found guilty in absentia yesterday at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on charges of defamation and inciting discrimination.

The charges came in connection with public comments Sam Rainsy made in 2008 alleging that Hor Namhong headed the Khmer Rouge prison at Boeung Trabek.

Delivering the verdict, presiding judge Seng Neang told the court that Sam Rainsy’s comments had tarnished the reputation of Hor Namhong, who himself was a victim of the Khmer Rouge regime, as well as the reputation of the Cambodian Government. He said an additional charge of inciting discrimination had been added because of the public nature of the remarks, made during a commemoration ceremony at the killing fields of Choeung Ek in 2008.

“The case of the accused has affected the public and affected the victim’s reputation,” Seng Neang said. Sam Rainsy was also fined eight million riel (US$1,972) as a result of the conviction.

The opposition leader was forced to pay a symbolic one euro penalty after losing a case against Hor Namhong in a French court in 2008 in relation to similar comments made in his autobiography.

Sam Rainsy now faces a total of 14 years in prison as a result of three separate convictions should he return to the Kingdom. Last year, he was convicted in a pair of cases in relation to a protest he staged on Cambodia’s eastern border in 2009 to protest against alleged Vietnamese encroachment.

Sam Rainsy is currently based in France and has led the Sam Rainsy Party from abroad since fleeing the country to avoid the initial case pending against him in 2009.

Choung Choungy, Sam Rainsy’s lawyer, did not appear at the court yesterday because he said his client was “not interested” in the case, though he condemned the verdict after it was handed down.
“This is not justice for His Excellency Sam Rainsy,” Choung Choungy said.

Kar Savuth, Hor Namhong’s lawyer, expressed satisfaction with the decision outside the court yesterday.

“Sam Rainsy’s allegation is defamation and also incitement, turning national and international opinion against His Excellency Hor Namhong and the government,” he said.

Both the charges of defamation and inciting discrimination come from UNTAC criminal code, preceding the current penal code that was adopted after Hor Namhong filed the complaint against Sam Rainsy in 2008.

With the convictions stacking up against Sam Rainsy, Cambodian Centre for Human Rights president Ou Virak said it was unlikely that a political settlement would be brokered in the near future to allow the opposition leader to return to the country.

“That’s what the government wants – to keep Rainsy away, remove any real opposition threat to the ruling party and keep the legitimacy of their rule while still receiving donor support,” he said.

War memorial: Anzac service remembers


via CAAI

Tuesday, 26 April 2011 15:02David Boyle

War memorial

About 200 people held candles at the Australian embassy in Phnom Penh yesterday morning to remember Australian and New Zealand servicemen and women who lost their lives during warfare.

The Anzac Day dawn service is held annually to mourn those members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who died during all wars that the two countries have participated in. The central focus of Anzac Day remains the thousands who died during the ill-fated landing of allied forces on the beach at Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I.

Colonel Lewis Coyle, head of the presiding Australian Military Attaché to Cambodia, said yesterday that this year’s service in the Kingdom had a special significance.

“One of the sons of our previous staff had paid that ultimate sacrifice,” he said, referring to 22-year-old Richard Atkinson who died in Afghanistan this year. He is the son of the Australian embassy’s former doctor Ross Atkinson, who left Cambodia in 2009.

Those in attendance, he said, included three-star Cambodian Lieutenant General Suon Samnang and new Australian ambassador Penny Richards.

Girl testifies during child sex trial

Photo by: Pha Lina
Son Savin (left), 26, and Morm Pheang (second left), 50, leave Phnom Penh Municipal Court following a hearing yesterday.

via CAAI

Tuesday, 26 April 2011 15:02Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

A 13-year-old girl testified yesterday at the close of the trial of three women charged with recruiting underage child prostitutes in Phnom Penh.

Deputy prosecutor of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, Keu Bunnara, said yesterday that Keo Socheat, 56, Morm Pheang, 50, and Son Savin, 26, were arrested on May 31 last year, over allegations that they recruited at least one girl for child prostitution purposes at a guesthouse in capital’s Tuol Kork district.

He added that police from the Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Office at the Ministry of Interior made the arrest, when a 13-year old girl was brought to the Tumnerb guesthouse in Phsar Depot III commune to allegedly have sex with a client paying $1,200 per week.

The 13-year-old victim testified yesterday that on May 15 last year she left her home in the Anduong Meas commune of Takeo province’s Prey Kabas district to find work as a garment worker in Phnom Penh.

She stayed in Meanchey district’s Stung Meanchey commune with suspect Son Savin, who tried to help her find work as a waitress, but she was too young to be employed.

The victim said that on May 25 last year she met with Keo Socheat who promised to find her work as a garment worker.

“She told me that there was a work for me with a good salary and I was very happy to hear this. I hoped that I would able to make money to support my mother who lived in the province,” she said, adding that Keo Socheat took her to have her blood checked for sexually transmitted diseases and her virginity confirmed at a clinic.

“I was later sent by her to sleep with a man at the guesthouse for a salary of US$200 per week. However, I was very lucky because I was immediately rescued by the police while walking into the room.”

The victim has asked for $2,000 compensation from the suspects and Keu Bunnara has asked the court for a heavy sentence to prevent future incidents of child prostitution.

“Keo Socheat is a human trafficker in Cambodia and is also the mastermind of bringing this victim to have sex with a [client] at the guesthouse. Morm Pheang and Son Savin are the accomplices in this crime,” Keu Bunnara alleged.

Chin Da, a police officer at the municipal Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Office, said that police had spent a week investigating the three suspects before their arrest.

“According to our investigation and research, these people used to bring many young girls to have sex with the guests at hotels and guesthouses in Phnom Penh.

“They were selling the victims for sex from $1,200 to $1,500 per week and they could get a commission of between $150 and $200 per girl,” he said yesterday.

Keo Socheat confessed to recruiting the victim for prostitution in court yesterday, but claimed that she did not know she was breaking the law.

“I accept that I brought the victim to sleep with a man at the guesthouse. The reason why I have decided to commit this is because she had asked me to do it. On the other hand, I could make some money to support my family,” she said.

“I did not know that my activity is against the law. So I would like to ask the court to reduce my sentence.”

Son Savin claimed in court yesterday that she was not involved with the crime and asked to have her charges dropped.

“I am innocent person,” she said.

Presiding Judge of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, Ker Sakhorn, said yesterday that purchasing child prostitution or recruiting children as prostitutes is a serious crime and the court will issue a verdict for the three suspects on May 5.

Early rains hit salt production

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
A man walks through a salt field in Kep province. This year's salt production season has been shortened by early rains.


via CAAI

Tuesday, 26 April 2011 15:00Sieam Bunthy

Domestic salt production halted earlier than normal this year due to the early rainy season, causing lower than expected yields, according to Ly Seng, President of the Cambodian Salt Producers Association.

The association’s members have produced 70,000 tonnes for 2010 to 2011 season, a decline on its forecast of 80,000 tonnes set in January, he said.

Salt production normally mirrors the dry season in Cambodia, by beginning in November and ending in May, Ly Seng said.

He added production had been hit by an early start to the rainy season this year – causing most production to finish by April.

The association’s members produce salt on 4,500 hectares largely in Kampot and Kep provinces.

Cambodia’s domestic salt demand generally sits at between 80,000 tonnes to 100,000 tonnes a year, he said,

However, excess production last year meant there was plenty of leftover stock.

“We produced 170,000 tonnes of salt [last year], of which 70,000 tonnes are left,” he said.

Production varies year to year – declining to 30,000 tonnes in 2009, which led Cambodia to import from China to make up for the shortfall, officials said at the time.

Kampot Province Department of Industry Director Som Vichet pointed to heavy rains during April as forcing many salt production sites to halt.

Yet he claimed the Kingdom ought to be able to dip into its stockpiles to meet domestic demand in 2011.

“We will not lack salt this year,” he said.

Kampot province salt producer Man Hay claimed he had halted production in early April due to the heavy rains.

“I am afraid, as my output this year dropped,” he said. “I am waiting for the price, to see how high it is – it may be the case that I talk a loss.”

He pointed to the 1,400 tonnes of salt his 30 hectares produced last year, which fell to 700 tonnes this year.

Granulated salt traded at between 1200 and 1400 riel per kilogramme on Phnom Penh’s markets yesterday, with prices largely unchanged from a year ago, according to daily Ministry of Commerce statistics.

Late last year, government officials cracked down on the sale of non-iodised salt, claiming iodised salt helped prevent disease.

Garment exports rise as trade gap widens


via CAAI

Tuesday, 26 April 2011 15:00May Kunmakara

Global economic growth boosted Cambodia’s exports nearly 50 percent in the first quarter compared year on year, though the trade deficit expanded during the period, Ministry of Commerce officials said.

Exports increased 49.6 percent to US$1.13 billion between January and March, up from $756.6 million the year before, according to the figures.

The growth was driven by an increase in garments and textiles, but also agricultural products, according to Ministry of Commerce Secretary of State Ok Boung.

“The world economy is recovering. So our exports increase as demand goes up,” he said. He added the Kingdom had improved its business environment since the period of the financial downturn.

Garments and textiles, Cambodia’s main export, rose 45.5 percent in the first quarter to a total of $976 million from $670.9 million.

Agricultural products, including milled and unmilled rice, corn, cassava, rubber and processed timber, climbed to $112.8 million, a rise of more than 238 percent from the same period in 2010, ministry statistics show.

Meanwhile, total imports for the first quarter increased 71 percent to $1.55 billion from $908.5 million in the first quarter of 2010. Imports included raw materials for garments, food, petroleum, vehicles, construction materials and medicine.

Huot Pum, an economics professor at the Royal University of Law and Economics in Phnom Penh, called the figures a sign that Cambodia is increasingly capable of producing goods that other countries want.

That means “we can increase our share in the global market,” he said.

Growth in importing raw materials for the garment industry was one reason behind the increasing trade deficit, he said.

“That’s why we see that when exports grow, imports follow. Because we don’t yet have the ability to produce those materials [for the garment industry],” he said.

An official at the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce credited the country’s business-friendly regulations for the jump in commerce.

“Right now a lot of foreign businessmen are contacting us because our government has proved to them they are serious about attracting outside investors, and that makes them want to do business here,” said Nguon Meng Tech, Director General at the CCC.

Asean frustrated in bid to solve dispute

Marty: Unexpectedly cancelled trip

via CAAI
Published: 26/04/2011
Newspaper section: News

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa's abrupt decision not to visit Cambodia and Thailand yesterday clearly indicates the Asean chair's efforts to resolve the border problem between the two countries have so far been frustrated.

Mr Marty was scheduled to visit Cambodia first and then fly on to Thailand to discuss the final draft of the terms of reference (TOR) on placing Indonesian observers in the disputed area on the Thai-Cambodian border.

A government source said Mr Marty told Thai officials that he had "rescheduled" rather than "cancelled" the trip.

It has been speculated that last week's fresh outbreak of violence in the disputed area may have influenced the decision.

Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said Mr Marty has been expected to sign an agreement to deploy Indonesian observers at the border.

But it remained unsure whether Thailand would sign.

Cambodia has offered its acceptance of the draft. The source said Thailand is ready to sign the TOR with Indonesia but Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi says there had been a "technical" problem.

This could be why Mr Marty asked to reschedule the trip, rather than the latest border clashes.

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said the delay was because Thailand wants to change some wording in the TOR referring to the observers' immunity issue.

"[Once the draft is accepted] I will ask for approval from the cabinet before exchanging TOR documents with Mr Marty on Thursday during the Asean Ministerial Meeting on social and culture issues to be held in Indonesia," Mr Kasit said.

Indonesia, as Asean chair, became involved in the Thai-Cambodian border problem following Phnom Penh's request to bring a third party into the dispute.

Mr Marty recently sent both countries' accounts of the most recent clashes to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

He is also seen trying to speed up adoption of the TOR in order to demonstrate his engagement to the UNSC, from which Cambodia has requested intervention.

Under the TOR draft, Cambodia will allow Indonesian observers to be stationed in three border locations, including the 4.6-square-kilometre disputed zone.

But Thailand is strongly opposed to the presence of observers in the area.

Thailand will allow the observers in four locations in Si Sa Ket province which saw fighting between the two sides during Feb 4 to 7.

However, Thailand can claim success in the barring of forces setting up around the Preah Vihear temple or the Keo Sikha Kiri Svara pagoda nearby.

"Asean and the TOR are just the passageway for Cambodia to bring the dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) again," the same source said.

Most Thai officials believe that if Cambodia thought it could win another ICJ case, it would have no hesitation in submitting the issue to the court.

But as Cambodia is apparently not so confident of victory this time, it has tried to involve a third party's hand for this objective, the source said.

The latest clashes extended to Surin province's border, which is not covered by the existing TOR.

Clinton urges Thailand, Cambodia restraint

via CAAI

WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday urged Thailand and Cambodia to exercise restraint and take immediate steps to defuse tensions after their deadliest border clashes in several years.

Clinton said that the United States had engaged directly with Thai and Cambodian officials in hopes of ending the violence, which has killed 12 soldiers and caused tens of thousands of villagers to flee.

"The United States remains deeply concerned about clashes between security forces along the Thailand-Cambodia border," Clinton said in a statement.

"We strongly urge both sides to exercise restraint, refrain from provocative acts and immediately take all necessary steps to reduce tensions and avoid further conflict," she said.

"The loss of life, displacement of civilians and damage to property is regrettable," she said.

Clinton welcomed mediation by Indonesia, whose Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa had been due in both countries Monday but postponed his visit.

"We support the efforts of Indonesia in their role as chair of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to work with both countries to reach a resolution," she said.

The clashes erupted Friday near two groups of contested temples -- named Ta Kwai and Ta Muen in Thai or Ta Krabei and Ta Moan in Khmer.

The violence is the worst since the border dispute flared up almost three years ago and shattered a ceasefire that had held since February when the UN Security Council called for a permanent truce.

Thailand, Cambodia battle on border for 4th day amid allegations ancient temples were damaged

Cambodian displaced people share soup for their dinner at a refugee camp in Samroang town in Udor Meanchey province, some 325 kilometers (202 miles) northwest of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, April 25, 2011. Cambodia accused Thailand of damaging two ancient temples during three days of border clashes that killed 12 people, as Southeast Asian diplomats struggled Monday to find a way to end the repeated deadly flare-ups. (AP Photo/Khem Sovannara)

via CAAI

Sopheng Cheang,Thanyarat Doksone, The Associated Press Apr 25, 2011

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - Thai and Cambodian forces battled for a fourth straight day along their disputed border Monday, as Cambodia accused its neighbour of damaging two ancient temples in weekend clashes.
Southeast Asian diplomats are struggling to end the repeated deadly flare-ups, but Thailand's prime minister appeared to reject outside help Monday, saying the two countries have to resolve the dispute alone.
The fighting on land around temples and several other crumbling stone monuments is rooted in a long-running dispute over where the border should be drawn and has fueled profound nationalistic fervour in both countries for decade.
Field commanders on both sides reported heavy exchanges of fire after nightfall Monday around Ta Krabey temple. Cambodian Col. Suos Sothea said from the front that both sides had fired artillery, mortars and rifles.
Thai army spokesman Col. Sansern Kaewkamnerd confirmed that account, saying "we could not stay still and allow them to attack. We had to counter responsively."

Both sides have accused each other of starting the latest battles, which by Sunday had killed at least 12 soldiers on both sides and forced 30,000 people in Thailand and another 17,000 in Cambodia to flee.
While a wider war seems unlikely, several cease-fires have failed to prevent new border bloodshed. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for a cease-fire, but the prospects for peace appear shaky.
Most of the recent fighting has taken place around the 1,000-year-old Ta Moan and Ta Krabey temples, which are on territory claimed by both countries. The temples date back to the Khmer empire that once ruled over much of both Cambodia and Thailand.

Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan said the two temple complexes, caught in crossfire over the weekend, had been hit by bullets and shells, but there was no word on how bad the damage was. Thai authorities had no immediate comment on the allegation.
This month's renewed fighting comes as Thailand prepares for general elections expected by early July. The Thai army, which staged a coup in 2006 and continues to hold influence in domestic politics, has effectively vetoed a plan to station Indonesian observers to monitor the border situation.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa was in "intense" talks with both sides to secure an end to the conflict in his role as current chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Foreign Ministry official Hamzah Thayeb said.
Natalegawa postponed a scheduled trip Monday to Cambodia, Thayeb said, as Indonesia continued to push to send military observers to the region — a move that Thailand has so far vehemently rejected. The trip's cancellation cast doubt on hopes the simmering dispute might be resolved quickly
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said the border issue must be solved by Thailand and Cambodia themselves, saying third-party involvement might make it "more complicated"

"There is no need for a third country to intervene," said Abhisit. "Eventually there has to be a talk between Thailand and Cambodia."

Abhisit said he would meet Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen during a two-day ASEAN summit due in Indonesia on May 7.

The conflict involves small swaths of land along the border that have been disputed for more than half a century. Fierce clashes have broken out several times since 2008, when Cambodia's 11th-century Preah Vihear temple was given U.N. World Heritage status over Thailand's objections.

In recent years, political groups on both sides have accused their opponents of using the skirmishes to stir nationalistic fever and further their own domestic political agendas.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has harnessed the dispute in the past to build political support. And during the last round of fighting in February, Thai nationalists launched a sit-in outside government buildings in part to demand the country take a tough stand against Cambodia. The group is widely seen as playing the patriotism card in a bid to exercise more influence over politics at home.

The current round of clashes are the first since February, when eight soldiers and civilians were killed near the more well known Preah Vihear, which suffered minor damage from exploding artillery and mortar shells that knocked small chunks out of a few of its walls.

The latest fighting over the last several days broke out about 100 miles (160 kilometres) west of Preah Vihear. After easing earlier Sunday, fighting resumed later that night, both sides said, raising the toll from 10 to 12.
Doksone reported from Bangkok; Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia, contributed to this report.