Posted by admin on Feb-3-2009
By THANIDA TANSUBHAPOL
Negotiations between Thailand and Cambodia over Preah Vihear have stumbled over the spelling of the name of the famed ancient temple.
A Thai official said yesterday officials of the Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission were trying to find a way around the problem so border negotiations could proceed.
Vasin Teeravechyan, who chairs the commission, said a solution acceptable to the two countries would be found.
Thailand insists on using “the Temple of Phra Viharn-Preah Vihear” on documents used in the negotiations. Cambodian officials strongly object, saying Preah Vihear is internationally accepted.
Mr Vasin, who is a retired Foreign Ministry official, said the name proposed by Thailand was very common in international negotiations on the issue.
The Temple of Phra Viharn-Preah Vihear has been approved by parliament for the framework negotiations with Cambodia. Thailand will use it in documents to be signed with Cambodia.
The meeting will be concluded today.
The two countries have been unable to settle on a plan to reduce troops in the disputed area which covers 4.6 square kilometres between Kantharalak district in Si Sa Ket and the Cambodian province of Preah Vihear.
Mr Vasin refused further comment on the issue. But earlier he said Cambodia had told the meeting it had no soldiers stationed in the area.
The Cambodia delegation is led by Senior Minister Var Kim Hong.
Despite the disagreement over the name of the temple, the two countries will set up another team to survey the borderline for demarcation between Nam Yuen district in Ubon Ratchathani and Phu Sing district in Si Sa Ket, which is 195km long.
Thailand and Cambodia have already formed a survey team to study the disputed area near the ancient temple which was the scene of a military clash last year.
A plan to reduce the number of soldiers near the disputed area is expected to be included in talks when Defence Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan visits Phnom Penh on Friday.
Archive for the ‘Preah Vihear’ Category
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By KHMER EMPIRE 200BC- 2009 AD
Should Cambodia and Thailand be the “Comity of Nations” ? The blatant answer would be >>> a triple…..NO, NO, NO. Throughout the Khmer history, each Cambodian knows that Thais are ruthlessly uncouth, malicious, and heinous to Khmer civilizations.They had once annihilated the Khmer Empire and still wanted avariciously hysterogenic of annexing the Khmer provinces into its kingdom. Are Cambodians traumatically haunted by the zombies of Thai aggressors ? Of course, they never forget the past nor this present day. vengefully belligerent ? possibly so!!!! As the laws of physics: things go up remain come down to its own gravity. Khmer Empire had reached its own zenith, but unfortunately did not succumb from its own sumptuous molecules, Thais premeditatedly annihilated to its glory. They looted every piece of stones and fearlessly crumbled every precious stones that they impossibly could not transport to its own kingdom.
Can Khmer to abide these gruesome acts ? Absolutely no. Will these two nations shun violence to the future ? might be so, only if Thais to withdraw its troops from Khmer sovereignty. >>>>> Thanks to the French naturalist who triumphantly discovered the Khmer grandiose “ANGKOR” and had overwhelmingly disseminated the news to Europe. His discovery was astonishing the world and soulfully revitalize the new history of ANGKOR. Over a century-and-half ago after the death of Henry, the archaeological stalwarts around the world have flocked to Khmer kingdom to dig out the verity of “ANGKOR” and they astonishingly unveiled the ancient Khmer civilizations. What they had found through their archaeological research was that “ANGKOR WAT” is only the small sumptuous mausoleum of the King Jayvaraman VII. More important that the tomb is ANGKOR once was stretched a thousand mile throughout Southeast Asia which comprised of Cambodia, Vietnam, Lao, Burma, Thailand, and Malaysia.
The recent hi-tech images were taken from outer space revealed to the contemporary archaeologists that “ANGKOR” was the largest preindustrial city with its populations reached 1,000,000 inhabitants. Additionally, the ancient Khmer had an ability to harness the sophisticated irrigational system effectively that other civilizations could never built. I am deeply thankful for our ancient stalwarts and Khmer kings who were indefatigably built ANGKOR for their new generations to learn our own ancestral past.>>>>What matters now with Thailand whose ancestors the squatter ? Mournfully jealous because of their ancestral past the thugs!!!! Should Cambodia bilaterally register PREAH VIHEAR with Thailand to UNESCO? Ostensibly murky. Using its military forces to conquer the world heritage ? Please, please,please.
Is Thailand a civilized country, or full of arcanely heinous politicains ? BANGKOK is comprised of brothels, drugs, and stolen Khmer’s Angkorian precious carving stones. The facts that the more Thai nationals haunted by the Khmer ruins, the most likely that they will face truculently malicious to themselves. >>>>>What happens to their internally political stalemate ? More Thai troops to adjoining PREAH VIHEAR with modern sophisticated weaponry ? How about economic woe in its northeastern state: BURRIRAM. Since deployment and redeployment of its troops, the BURRIRAM national park has to be closed for security reasons. How about its southern state bordering with Malaysia ? Political uprisings and more likely to gain independence soon from Malaysia with sporadic bombs and suicide-bombers valorously intrepid of death. >>>>Ultimately, a few skirmish along the border conspicuously told Khmers that Thailand had lost the war. How about the pictures of weaponry above, don’t they show that Thailand has an ability to encroach the Khmer sovereigty ? Hell no, the Thai comrades just show off to impress its citizens to divert the facts about its internally political stalemate, economic woe, and distracting from pro-Thaksin vengeance. Will Thailand sustain its military powers by using these weaponry ? Only testing each superpowers militarily capable weaponry could adjudicate the history.
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Reading the English-language press in Bangkok one is frequently surprised by the lack of objective reporting regarding the dispute over the Preah Vihear temple.
As a matter of fact, this Thai press is immensely unbalanced and will even go as far as to say that the Cambodians are the true troublemakers as well as the first to shoot.
A personal fondness I have for truth as well as the friendship I have for Cambodia both urge me to clarify some historic points between these two countries.
Toward the end of the ninth century people coming from Southern China started to establish themselves inside the Khmer Empire to the north of the Dangrek mountain range. They would be known as the Siamese and later on, the Thais.
They progressively strengthened themselves until the area they inhabited became the Thai Kingdom of Ayuthaya.
This Kingdom would destroy Angkor in two waves: Once in 1351 and another time in 1431, each time deporting a large part of the Khmer population and imposing its sovereignty over Cambodia, from which it annexed entire provinces in the years to come.
Like an “Atlantis in waiting,” swallowed to the northwest by Siam and to the east by Vietnam, Cambodia was on its way to complete extinction.
Aware of the situation, King Ang Duong solicited in 1853 the intervention of France, which was at that time ruled by Napoleon III.
The Siamese were informed of the alliance about to be made between France and Cambodia and succeeded in making it fail. But in 1863, King Norodom eventually signed a protectorate treaty with France.
The English influence was strong in Siam, but the Franco-British agreement of July 14, 1884 had already recognized the Mekong Basin as a French-owned zone. This would not prevent the Siamese from cutting off the basin and advancing toward Laos.
In 1893, the French had had enough of these gradual advances and sent their warships up the Menam River to Bangkok. France thus blocked any trade from reaching the shores, which obliged the Siamese court to renounce all of their claims to the left bank of the Mekong River. Meanwhile, France kept the provinces of Chantaboun and Paknam as hostages. Some French naval troops occupied these regions until the Convention of 1904 gave back the Province of Koh Kong and Steung Treng to Cambodia. Other areas included Melou Prei and Tonle Repou, which were left by Siam to Laos and finally given back to Cambodia by France.
The Convention of 1904 led to the Treaty of 1907, which was drawn up by France and Siam, where in exchange for the return of the provinces of Trat, Chantaboun and the territory of Dan Sai, which is in the current province of Loei, King Chulalongkorn of Siam (Rama V) left the provinces of Battambang, Sisophon and Siem Reap to France, who gave them back to Cambodia.
When King Sisowath was finally able to go to Angkor and repossess a land that had always been undoubtedly Khmer, he declared that this was the biggest glory of his reign.
But the Siamese would not give up.
Taking advantage of the French defeat against Germany during World War II, the Siamese immediately violated the pact of non-aggression signed with France on June 12, 1940.
The Thai Prime Minister, Field Marshall Phibun Songkhram, organized a series of nationalist and anti-French demonstrations in Bangkok. Then, the border disputes multiplied in number along the banks of the Mekong. During daytime, the Thai air force, superior in number, bombed Vientiane, Sisophon and Battambang without any objection from abroad. The French air force attempted to strike back, but the damage inflicted was minimal.
In December 1940, Thailand then occupied the provinces of Pak-Lay and Bassac. At the beginning of January 1941, Bangkok men launched an offensive on Laos and Cambodia. The Franco-Indochinese resistance was in place, but the majority of the military units were overwhelmed by the better-equipped Thai forces (20 French tanks vs. 134 Thai tanks.)
The Thais quickly occupied Laos.
However, French resistance in Cambodia was more resilient. By Jan 16, France launched a large counter attack led by the 5th REI (a regiment belonging to the French Foreign Legion) on the villages of Yang Dang Khum and Phum Preav, where the fiercest fighting of the war took place.
The French counterattack was blocked and ended in a retreat, but the Thais could no longer pursue the French forces as their tanks had been nailed to the ground by the French anti-tank canons. For lack of means, these very canons had been pulled by buffaloes to the battlefield.
As the ground situation was critical for France, Admiral Decoux gave the green light to execute an operation against the Thai Navy. The order was given to the available French navy to attack the Gulf of Thailand. On the morning of Jan 17, 1941, “the Provisional Group” (a force assembled for that very occasion) attacked the Thai Navy at Koh Chang. Although the Thai ships were far superior in number, the operation of the French navy managed to bring home a comprehensive victory.
After the battle, a large part of the Thai navy was destroyed. But on January 24, the final air battle took place while a Thai air raid attacked Siem Reap Airport.
Japan intervened quickly in the conflict in favor of the Thais and imposed an armistice followed by a peace treaty causing France to relinquish the Cambodian provinces of Battambang, Siem Reap as well as the Lao provinces of Champassak and Sayaburi on May 9. These territories were more than 50,000 km squared in size and inhabited by 420,000 people.
These territories annexed from Cambodia were, however, handed back by Thailand on November 1947 under international pressure (Treaty of Washington).
But from 1953, although Cambodia had only just achieved its independence from France, Thai troops invaded Preah Vihear and hoisted their national flag above the temple. Nine years later in 1962, the clever mind of then-Prince Norodom Sihanouk paved the way for obtaining an international decision at the International Court of Justice in The Hague and the Thais were obliged to retreat from the Khmer temple.
Unfortunately, the respite would be short lived: War broke out shortly after and Preah Vihear was again in the mix, the temple being occupied by successive armies fighting each other.
A little while after the defeat of the Khmer Rouge in 1979, Thailand was submerged with Cambodian refugees and, to show to the world that it couldn’t cope without international aid Thailand planned what could be considered a staged atrocity.
On the morning of Friday June 8, 1979,110 trucks parked in front of the Nong Chan Refugee Camp, which housed tens of thousands of Cambodian refugees.
Thai officials told the refugees that they were going to be transferred to another, better equipped camp. In reality, these survivors of the Khmer Rouge genocide were being sent back to hell.
Far away from Nong Chan, the site of Preah Vihear had been chosen with a precise goal: To seek revenge for the loss of the temple in 1962. With a high cliff covered in jungle and thousands of land mines laid around the temple, the outcome of the forced expulsion of those thousands of Cambodian refugees could be guessed easily.
The unfortunate refugees were taken out of the trucks under the constant threat of weapons. Horrible scenes took place. All night long, truckloads after truckload of Cambodians were pushed – after first being despoiled of all their possessions – like livestock between two rows of soldiers through a narrow passage. The soldiers used their weapons as sticks and shot at those who refused to file down the narrow passage.
Terrorized by the thought of stepping on one of the many mines, laid previously there by the Khmer Rouge, the refugees desperately attempted to stay on the track. But the Thais continuously pushed more refugees along the path and people were forced to walk through the minefields.
Both thirsty and hungry, the survivors of this atrocity needed three days to cross the immense mine field filled with decaying corpses and injured victims squirming in pain.
One estimates that over 45,000 Cambodians were forced out of Thailand in this manner. For several days, the refugees were transported into hell by a huge number of trucks that dumped them at Preah Vihear. It is still impossible to evaluate the number of casualties from this expulsion, as the Khmer Rouge who waited to greet the refugees did not keep records.
All too often this awful page of history is ignored, one retains only this “Amazing Thailand” image in today’s tourist brochures.
The wrongdoings of the Thais against the Khmers should be remembered, not to set the two populations against each other but so that justice can at last be achieved.
Let it be said that Cambodians don’t attack anyone. They know too well that the balance of power is not in their favor. Still they vow to defend their country through courage and determination-they have no other choice.
But Thailand has too many internal political problems not to try and exploit the myth of a “sacred national alliance” against its barbaric neighbors, and the deaths of the past will change nothing in it.
This historical tragedy is unfortunately far from over and there is no happy ending in sight.
The Americans dislike Prime Minister Hun Sen too much to pressure their Thai partners into a peaceful solution. And it is unlikely that the French will send their warships against Bangkok again…
Pierre-Yves Clais was a former UN peacekeeper in Cambodia (1992). He currently owns Terre Rouge Lodge with his wife in the Ratanakiri.
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Feb 27, 2009
By Shawn W Crispin
Asia Times (Hong Kong)
BANGKOK – When a state-linked Cambodian Internet service provider (ISP) blocked access this month to a critical non-governmental organization report detailing the government’s alleged mismanagement of natural and energy resources, the censorship closed the loop on the region’s fast-closing cyberspace.
The Cambodian government has prioritized improving its Internet controls and legislation, despite the fact less than 0.3% of the population is online, one of the lowest Internet penetration rates in the world. The recent bust of an alleged terror plot against the government revealed that authorities had capability to hack into suspects’ – and perhaps perceived other adversaries’ – e-mail accounts.
It wasn’t long ago that Asia’s Internet was being heralded as an inexorable force for democratic change across the predominantly authoritarian-run region. Rising Internet penetration rates and the proliferation of websites that provided alternative news and critical views, particularly in countries where the state had long dominated information flows, marked substantial democratic gains.
Across the world, governments are now bidding to claw back those gains and assert tighter control over the Internet through improved surveillance and censorship capabilities. Meanwhile, new laws are granting state authorities in many countries new powers to block and censor online content, often in the arbitrary name of maintaining social order or national security.
The battle for Internet freedom is particularly pitched in Southeast Asia, where even nominally democratic governments are now cracking down on journalists, bloggers and ordinary Internet users. China has emerged as the region’s Internet censorship role model, with its successful use of sophisticated filtering and surveillance technologies, widely known as Beijing’s “Great Firewall”.
Those capabilities have been widened through a new government-run computer monitoring information system, known as the “Golden Shield Project”. Of the 28 journalists now imprisoned in China, as tallied by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), 24 of them were charged and sentenced for articles and commentaries they posted online.
In its recently released “Attacks on the Press” compendium, CPJ contends that a growing number of Southeast Asian governments have moved to emulate China’s cyber-censorship techniques. The advocacy group argues that as Western nations have moved to engage China’s authoritarian regime, several Southeast Asian governments no longer feel obliged to follow through on the democratic reforms – including commitments to Internet freedom – the West had once pressured them to adopt.
Those pressures are expected to diminish further as the US looks towards China to help bail-out its bankrupt financial and banking systems through the continued purchase of US treasury bonds. The US’s collapsing demand for regional exports and flagging outward investments is expected to eventually translate into reduced diplomatic clout in Southeast Asia, a retrenchment that will likely enhance China’s already rising regional influence.
Long-time US ally Thailand stands as a case in point. The Thai government has launched one of the most aggressive crackdowns on Internet freedom seen anywhere in the world – so far without a peep of dissent from Bangkok’s US embassy. The crackdown was presaged by the passage of the 2007 Computer Crime Act, which among other measures made the use of proxy servers to circumvent government blocks on websites an offense punishable by imprisonment.
The Information Technology and Communication Ministry has since earmarked millions of dollars to develop and deploy improved firewall technologies and the ministry now maintains an Internet “war room” where officials conduct surveillance over Internet content. The ministry said in early January that it had closed down 2,300 websites for posting materials deemed critical of the Thai royal family.
The Justice Ministry has since indicated it will seek a court order to block another 3,000 to 4,000 sites for the same reason. At least one Thai Internet user is currently in prison for posting materials deemed offensive to the royal crown, and two bloggers were temporarily detained but not formally charged on similar charges in 2007.
Nominally democratic Malaysia is another prominent backslider. The government pledged in 1996 not to censor the Internet to lure foreign funds to the Multimedia Super Corridor project, an ambitious state gambit that aimed to incubate Malaysia’s own version of the US’s Silicon Valley. The no-censorship policy allowed online news providers and bloggers to report and comment on news that the state-controlled mainstream media either neglected or was instructed from above to ignore.
That commitment was symbolically dropped last year when the government ordered local ISPs to block access to prominent blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin’s Malaysia Today news site, which has a larger readership than several established state-influenced newspapers. He has been charged and detained under both the Sedition and Internal Security Acts for online writings which were critical of the government.
According to the CPJ, it’s still unclear whether Malaysian authorities have deployed the same type of filtering and monitoring technologies seen in China, but the government is known to monitor Internet content through three different state agencies, including the Prime Minister’s Office. According to e-mail correspondence shared with this correspondent, Raja Petra, now temporarily released on Internal Security Act charges, is under family pressure to flee the country rather than stand trial in Malaysia’s politically compromised courts.
The situation is worsening in less democratic countries. Vietnam, known to maintain some of Asia’s most extensive Internet controls outside of China, has in recent months moved to introduce more stringent regulations governing bloggers and their postings. Singapore authorities recently harassed an Asia Times Online contributor for a November story that detailed the island state’s mounting financial troubles.
Police claimed that the article had been sent with added malicious comments to the head of state, opposition politicians and newspapers from the reporter’s e-mail account. The reporter denied the charge and police officials later indicated that an unidentified hacker had sent the message from her account. Either way, the reporter has been put on official notice that her online writings and e-mail activities are under surveillance.
Meanwhile, countries as repressive as Myanmar are dedicating significant resources to Internet censorship. The country’s technological failure to control the Internet was apparent for all to see when undercover journalists sent footage and reports of the 2007 Saffron Revolution street protests to outside news organizations, forcing the regime to unplug the Internet altogether before its fatal, final crackdown. Still, it’s unclear how many undercover journalists the authorities have been identified and jailed as part of their wider crackdown on dissent.
There are indications that Myanmar authorities have since received censorship training from Russian and Chinese officials. Some contend that this explains the mysterious distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on a number of exile media groups’ websites last year. Soe Myint, editor of the New Delhi-based Mizzima News, said during a recent presentation in Chiang Mai that the cost to effectively protect his website from future DDoS attacks is beyond his news organization’s financial means.
Despite these growing attacks, there is some cause for hope. Human rights organizations, investors and several prominent US Internet companies, including Yahoo!, Google and Microsoft, agreed in a joint initiative last October to follow guidelines to protect online expression and privacy when faced with repressive government requests for user identities or assistance in blocking targeted websites.
Meanwhile, some regional media groups have received foreign assistance to locate their servers anonymously and remotely in second countries to guard against future DDoS attacks. And ever-evolving proxy server and other roundabout firewall technologies continue to put Internet users in countries as isolated as Myanmar a step ahead of government censors.
Yet even with those agreements and technologies, Asia’s Internet is a substantially more dangerous space than it was previously. Southeast Asian governments are now responding with bigger budgets and heavier hands to the technological and political challenge presented by online expression. Under that mounting assault, previous high hopes for the medium’s democracy-promoting potential have in large measure faded.
Shawn W Crispin is Asia Times Online’s Southeast Asia Editor and Asia Program Consultant to the Committee to Protect Journalists. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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HANOI, Jan 16 (VNA) – Laos and Cambodia have signed a memorandum of understanding on connecting optical fiber cable, said NAM news network.
The two governments have agreed to assign the Enterprise of Telecommunications Lao (ETL) and Telecommunication Company (TC) of Cambodia to carry out the linking fiber optic cable along Laos and Cambodia border via the Nong Nonkhien international checkpoint.
The installation of fiber optic cable is expected to be completed mid-this year, the news network said.
The cooperation is to be made within the framework of Global System for Mobile Communications Project of the Six Great Mekong Sub-Region Countries, which was signed in 2004 and 2005 in Kunming, China, aimed at linking telecommunication system and fast exchanges information in the Great Mekong Sub-Region.
Admin: When I was in Cambodia visiting the wife family, I’ve read about Cambodia’s dilemma. In one of the poorest country in the world, it has one of the most expensive, if not the most expensive internet connection cost on the planet (frome hundreds to thousands of dollars a month). That is just insane. As a result, even upper middle class families can not afford a decent speed on the Internet. In fact, they don’t even bother buying a computer, an essential tool for any country entering the 21st century. Children without a computer or illiterate in computer usage lacks the most fundamental learning tool in a modern, progressive society.
I remember reading where China was furious about this, since they wanted a connected Cambodia to access it’s growing internet presence. They wanted to connect Chinese line directly to Cambodia, so that it will not only be faster and much, much cheaper. I hope they keep their words.
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Reaksmey Kampuchea newspaper
8th January, 2009
Translated from Khmer by Khmerization
The 7-storey Jupiter Cruise liner (pictured) with 450 passengers had docked at a Bangkok Seaport on 25th December, 2008 at 10:30am with the hopes that the passengers will be able to celebrate Christmas in the land of Thailand. On the cruise ship there were 269 Cambodian passengers but it was the worst nightmare for them that the Thai authority did not allow them to leave the ship and sent them packing back to Cambodia.
On the 4th of December, Jupiter Cruise, as part of its first launch, has left Phu Quoc (Koh Tral) island in Nha Trang province for Kompong Som in Cambodia to go to Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket in Thailand. This is a free cruise and according to Mr. Benson Samay, defence attorney for the cruise, on the cruise ship there were 269 Cambodian passengers, among them there were 27 Cambodian passengers who hold diplomatic and government official passports, 22 Cambodians who hold foreign passports and 215 Cambodians who hold ordinary passports with Thai visas stamped on them.
In a letter to Mr. Chheang Vun, Chairman of Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, sent on 6th January, 2009, Mr. Benson Samay said that, according to an English captain of the Jupiter Cruise, the Thai authority did not allow the Cambodian passengers to enter into Thailand by using an excuse that “there might be some Khmer Rouge disguising among the passengers who can create insecurity in their country (Thailand).” The letter added that the Thai authority will only allow the Cambodian passengers to enter Thailand “on the condition that those Cambodian passengers agreed to pay $1500 each person in security bond and the bond money can only be withdrawn after 3 months time.”
Mr. Chheang Vun has told Reaksmey Kampuchea newspaper that he has sent the letter to Mr. Long Visalo, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to summon the Thai officials to explain the incident.
Mr. Chheang Vun added: “if this information is true, it is a regrettable incident”, by adding that he was not aware whether the cruise ship has sufficient documents to enter Thailand or not, Mr. Chheang Vun said that Cambodia and Thailand have a visa agreement, and among the 269 passengers, only 5 passengers who did not have the Thai visas. Mr. Chheang Vun said that according to Mr. Benson Samay, those 5 passengers did not wish to leave the cruise ship to enter the Thai territories. By saying this, Mr. Chheang Vun wanted to stress that there is no reason for the Thai authority to bar the 269 Cambodian passengers from entering Thai territories.
Mr. Benson Samay added that the Thai authority allowed the Vietnamese passengers to disembark the cruise ship to enter Thai territories by transporting the 24 Vietnamese passengers by boat to Bangkok. The Cambodian were not allowed to enter Thailand unless they agreed to pay the $1500 security bond as requested.
Under international regulations, regulated by the International Maritime Organisation (OMI), the regulations for any ships to dock at any international seaports are not linked to the passengers on board of the ships. This means that as long as the passengers on the ship have appropriate visas agreed between the two countries, they must be allowed to enter the country they intended to visit. On the contrary, if the passengers have no proper documentations, when the ship has already docked at any international ports, those passengers can remain on the ship legally because that ship is considered as “a country” as well.
Two days ago an official from the Thai Foreign Ministry told the Thai media that he did not know of the incident and that same official has assured that Thailand will launch an investigation if there is a detailed diplomatic protest from Cambodia.
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I know it is a bit late, but I had to attend parties and visit relative all over the place. So here it is, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!
It is traditional for most people to have a “new year resolution” for every new year. Mine is to stay healthy, keep busy, and to always appreciate the love of my wife and my entire extended family from America to Cambodia.
I also wish for peace and prosperity in Cambodia and in our confusing neighbor, Thailand.
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Monday, December 15, 2008
Abhisit Vejjajiva, the leader of Thailand’s Democrat party, has been chosen by parliament to become the country’s new prime minister.
The 44-year-old career politician was born in Britain to medical professor parents.
Educated at Eton College and Oxford University, he graduated with first class honours in politics, philosophy and economics.
Though popular with the foreign business community, Abhisit has found little support with rural northeastern Thais who make up the country’s majority and are the backbone of support for Thaksin Shinawatra, the prime minister ousted in a 2006 coup who has remained the focus of anti-government protests since.
In nearly three years as opposition leader, Abhisit’s excursions outside Bangkok or the Democrat heartlands of the south were rare and almost always met with hostility, sometimes even in the form of flying rotten vegetables.
Abhisit says he wants clean government and he denounced the 2006 coup against Thaksin, but critics say he is an opportunist who has received help from the military and the anti-Thaksin People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD).
He failed to condemn the PAD, even when the demonstrators occupied Bangkok’s two airports late last month, and it was his party’s decision to boycott a snap election in 2006 that precipitated the constitutional crisis that eventually led to the coup against Thaksin.
His policies borrow heavily from Thaksin, in particular the commitment to continue the universal public healthcare scheme and cheap rural loans introduced during Thaksin’s five years in office.
Abhisit has also vowed to push for more overseas free trade deals but at the same time reverse Thaksin’s partial privatisation of some state firms.
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Dec. 14 (Bloomberg) — President George W. Bush ducked two shoes thrown at him by a man during a press conference in the Iraqi prime minister’s office to mark the signing of a security agreement.
Bush wasn’t hit by the shoes, which both sailed over his head after they were thrown one after the other. The president shrugged and said “I’m OK” after the incident in Baghdad today. “All I can report is it is a size 10,” Bush said afterwards.
In Arab culture, throwing shoes is a grave show of disrespect. “This is the farewell kiss, you dog,” the man shouted in Arabic.
After U.S. troops pulled down a statue of former dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003, Iraqi bystanders tossed shoes at it, according to news reports at the time. Bush said today’s incident was an example of free speech in a democracy.
The man threw the shoes from about 25 feet away as Bush, standing with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, made formal remarks before the signing of the Iraqi-U.S. agreement. Maliki tried to block the second thrown shoe as it flew toward Bush, according to video of the incident shown on television.
Wrestled to Ground
The shoe-thrower, who was in a group of journalists, was wrestled to the ground and taken away. “This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq,” shouted the man, later identified by the Associated Press as Muntadar al-Zeidi, a correspondent for Al-Baghdadia television, an Iraqi- owned station based in Cairo, Egypt.
At the signing ceremony, Bush said a free and democratic Iraq will now become “a force for freedom” and a “source of stability in a volatile region.”
“There is still more work to be done,” Bush said. “The war is not over.” The president said that with the agreement, “and the courage of the Iraqi people, and the Iraqi troops, and American troops and civilian personnel, it is decisively on its way to being won.”
Bush arrived today in Baghdad on a surprise visit — his last to Iraq as commander-in-chief — to celebrate the agreement, thank U.S. troops and meet with Iraqi leaders.
It was Bush’s fourth visit to a nation transformed by the U.S.-led war he started in 2003. It follows three weeks after Iraq’s parliament approved an accord with the U.S. that provides for the withdrawal of American troops by the end of 2011.
President-elect Barack Obama has said one of his first acts as commander-in-chief would be to direct his military commanders to begin withdrawing troops “as quickly as we can” while maintaining stability in Iraq, ensuring the safety of U.S. troops and preventing a resurgence of terrorism.
The president has made three previous unannounced trips to Iraq — on Thanksgiving 2003, June 13, 2006, and Sept. 3, 2007.
While those earlier trips were intended largely to bolster troop morale and shore up domestic support for the unpopular war, Bush’s latest Iraq visit amounted to a valedictory appearance. He leaves office on Jan. 20.
Bush ended his visit to Baghdad by addressing more than 1,000 troops at Camp Victory, the staging area in Baghdad for U.S. forces. He was greeted by cheers and whoops inside the late Saddam Hussein’s Al Faw palace, where he stood beneath an American flag that reached nearly to the rotunda of the palace.
The surge of additional U.S. troops sent to Iraq early last year to quell sectarian violence has been “one of the greatest successes in the history of the United States military,” Bush said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Edwin Chen in Baghdad at email@example.com
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Tuesday December 2, 2008
By NIRMAL GHOSH
ANN/ The Straits Times (Singapore)
BANGKOK: Thailand’s Constitutional Court on Tuesday disbanded the ruling People’s Power Party (PPP) leading to the dissolution of Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat’s government.
The court also banned PPP’s executive board members, including Somchai, from politics for five years.
It further ruled to dissolve Chart Thai Party, imposing the same ban on its executive board members for five years.
On Monday, Thai police had asked the military to help step up security in the capital, fearing that pro-government supporters would react violently should the PPP be declared illegal for electoral fraud in last year’s polls.
Already, anti-government protesters in Bangkok have come under attack in recent days. Pro-government “red-shirts” are said to be prepared to head for the capital from the provinces in their thousands once the signal is given.
The court verdict may prove a turning point in a country roiled by months of political turmoil.
The conflict pits the yellow-shirted members of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) against Somchai and his government, seen by them as corrupt proxies of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
In their campaign to bring down the government, the PAD’s supporters seized the Prime Minister’s official compound in Bangkok in August and, last week, took over both Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang airports.
The airport seizures have stranded over 350,000 travellers in Thailand. Various airlines and governments were scrambling Monday to deploy more flights to Phuket, Chiang Mai and U-Tapao to get them out.
Meanwhile, in a switch of tactics, the PAD moved most of its supporters at Government House to the airports on Monday.
“We are not abandoning the site,” PAD spokesman Suriyasai Katasila insisted. By evening, hundreds were still ensconced in the compound.
As all sides braced themselves for the court decision, senior members of the PPP were said to be urgently considering alternatives should the party be thrown out of power.
Already its members are describing a dissolution of the party as a “judicial coup.” The judgment could come within days, if not Tuesday itself.
One option is for the PPP itself to dissolve Parliament before the judgment is out, and to call an election — which it is sure to win.
In this scenario, its MPs would merely switch to another party, Puea Thai, and fight the election.
Another option is for the PPP to set up a “government in exile” and create a resistance movement nationwide, should there be a military coup.
The mechanics for this are being worked on right now, but the idea is not new: It was considered but not implemented in September 2006 when the army toppled the Thaksin government.
It is not clear where such a “government in exile” would be based, but Thaksin is said to be in Cambodia while also working on setting up a base in Dubai.
Somchai, who was asked by reporters Monday when he would return to Bangkok, remarked that he could run the country from anywhere.
“The place is not an issue as long as I can work and get cooperation from all parties,” he added, insisting that he was not stepping down.
For the moment, Chiang Mai is his base as the northern city is home ground for him — and Thaksin — making it harder for the army to detain him in the event of a coup.
The political upheaval has also disrupted plans for Asean meetings from December 13 to 17.
“I will propose at the Cabinet meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) to postpone the summit to March as we can’t open our airport for leaders’ planes to land yet,” foreign minister Sompong Amornwiwat said.
Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono proposed his country as an alternative venue.
Indonesia and Asean Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan were offering to hold the meeting of its foreign ministers and East Asian dialogue partners in the Asean Secretariat offices in Jakarta, while the finance ministers could meet in Bali, he said.
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By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
28 November 2008
Thailand’s political crisis is costing Cambodia’s tourism sector $1 million a day in lost revenue, tourism officials say, while worries are growing about security for an upcoming Asean conference and the resolution of a monthslong border standoff.
Anti-government demonstrators have closed Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport in their efforts to oust the prime minister. In Cambodia, 10 flights per day have been canceled between three airlines, and tourism officials say they are missing 2,000 tourists per day as a result.
Ho Vandy, president of the Cambodian Tourism Association, estimated that the average tourist will spend $500 on a four-day trip in Cambodia, amounting to a loss to Cambodia of around $1 million per day.
“The cancellation of international flights affects hotels, restaurants and the work of tour guides, guest houses, taxi drivers, tuk-tuks,” said Bath Sambo, president of the Cambodian Tourism and Service Worker Federation. “We are very concerned about this.”
Officials also said Friday the instability could mean a cancellation of the Dec. 14 Asean meeting, which is to be held chaired by Thailand and held in Chiang Mai.
“In my opinion, the delay of the Asean summit is necessary because of the complicated situation in Thailand, where no one is responsible for the anarchy,” Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said.
The “complicated situation” in Thailand will also adversely affect talks next month, where a joint border committee was expected to discuss demining and demarcation, Hor Namhong said.