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 October, 2009
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The Bangkok Post
Chavalit (R) shook Hun Sen’s had during his visit to Cambodia on 21st October, 2009.
Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyuth, chairman of the opposition Puea Thai Party, said fugitive former prime minister would not permanently reside inCambodia as he did not want to create any problem to Thailand.
“I had asked him (Thaksin) why he did not stay in the neighbouring country as it is near to his hometown and family, but he said no”, Gen Chavalit on Saturday.
“Staying in Cambodia could lead to many problems to Thailand”, Thaksin was quoted as saying by Gen Chavalit.
The opposition camp chairman disclosed that he will visit Malaysia in mid-November and after that he will make a visit to Burma.
He said he has known Gen Than Shwe for quite a long time and thus he can help improve relations between Thailand and Burma.
Regarding a criticism that he was trying to discredit the government and to help Thaksin, Gen Chavalit said if someone wants to do a big thing, he must be able to stand for such a negative criticism.
The ex-premier insisted that all he had done and plans to do are for the benefit of the country.
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The Star, Malaysia
By PHILIP GOLINGAI
Hun Sen arriving at the Asean Summit.
As the Cambodian premier strained his connections with the Thai government, Thaksin’s tit for tat with Bangkok continues.
IN an editorial cartoon, The Nation’s cartoonist Stephff answers a question that has recently been bugging Thais – What is really wrong with Hun Sen?
Last week, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen offered political asylum to Thaksin Shinawatra, the former Thai prime minister ousted in a bloodless coup in 2006.
Thaksin has been in self-exile after fleeing Thailand in 2008 to avoid a two-year jail term on corruption charges.
Two days later, after arriving in Thailand to attend the Asean Summit, Hun Sen embarrassed Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva again when he announced that he would offer Thaksin a job as economic adviser.
On Thursday, Stephff’s cartoon showed an “alien” resembling the square face of Thaksin bursting out of the guts of a grimacing Hun Sen, with the “alien” holding a foot-clapper (the symbol of red-shirted pro-Thaksin supporters) confronting a terrified Abhisit.
The why as to Hun Sen’s recent Thaksin lovefest, according to the French cartoonist, is: “The horrible truth: Hun Sen was only a host body ….”
Stephff’s take is ha-ha funny. But it is a bit too far-fetched. I prefer The Nation’s military expert Avudh Panananda’s take. “It was a hoax perpetrated by Thaksin and Hun Sen to overshadow Abhisit’s AseanSummit,” he said.
Avudh does not believe the Cambodian’s declaration that the former telecommunications tycoon is his “eternal friend”.
“It is a myth that Thaksin-Hun Sen ties go back decades. The two were never close before Thaksin came to power in 2001,” he said.
In an article in The Nation, the writer gives a historical perspective of the two leaders’ relationship.
“At the peak of Thaksin’s popularity in 2003, Hun Sen wanted to lessen Thai domination in the wireless communications business.
“He pushed for the granting of a licence to a Japanese operator,” Avudh writes.
“This led to a failed coup in Phnom Penh. Cambodian leaders, particularly those in the Hun Sen camp, had lingering (suspicions) about the involvement of certain Thai figures.
“Soon after, Hun Sen fanned the Cambodian backlash on a Thai television actress. This in turn led to riots and the torching of the Thai Embassy,” Avudh says.
“To this day Thaksin and Hun Sen still cast suspicions on one another, although they have been boasting about their buddy-buddy ties for mutual gains.”
After the Asean Summit that ended on Oct 25, Thaksin again stole the limelight from Abhisit, who badly wanted to use the meeting of Asean leaders to atone for the abandonedsummit in Pattaya in April.
On Tuesday, Surapong Towijak-chaikul, an MP from the pro-Thaksin Pheu Thai Party claimed that during the summit, Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah stayed in Thaksin’s seaside home instead of the official accommodation provided by Ab-hisit’sgovernment.
Surapong, however, did not provide any evidence to back up his claim, which was intended to show that the Sultan was close to Thaksin and not to Abhisit.
Was the claim another hoax to embarrass Abhisit? Probably. The following day Kongkiart Natthavong, the head of security in charge of protection for the Sultan of Brunei, denied that the Sultan stayed in Thaksin’s home.
“It was my duty to accompany him and I had to go everywhere with him. I must know if he goes to other places,” Kongkiart said.
Then came the Abhisit government’s revenge.
On Wednesday, the government announced it would strip Thaksin of his royal awards (the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant and the Most Illustrious Order of King Chula Chonklao) and police rank (lieutenant-colonel, from his days in the police force from 1973 to 1987).
Though the Abhisit government is denying it, many political pundits see the government’s latest campaign against its arch-rival as tit for tat for Thaksin’s recent publicity stunts.
The billionaire politician’s res-ponse was classic Thaksin.
He Twittered: “This can be expected of this government … If they could use the law to kill me, they would have done so a long time ago.”
“Theoretically, the law-enforcement side is created to maintain peace and justice. Law must be enforced fairly and equally, but thegovernment opts to exercise the law to serve a political goal,” he wrote.
It would not take long for the “alien” resembling the square face of Thaksin to strike back.
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Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen is seen in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009. Thailand would seek the extradition of Thaksin Shinawatra if the fugitive former prime minister accepts an invitation for refuge in neighboringCambodia, Hun Sen said Thursday. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
The Associated Press
Friday Oct. 23, 2009
CHA-AM, Thailand — Cambodia’s leader offered to make Thailand’s ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra his economic adviser Friday, threatening to worsen already tense relations between the Southeast Asian neighbours.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen also compared Thaksin — still a deeply divisive figure in Thai politics — to Myanmar’s democracy icon Aung Sang Suu Kyi.
Hun Sen made the remarks to reporters just an hour after he arrived in Thailand to attend the annual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
“It’s true that I invite him to Cambodia anytime,” Hun Sen said of Thaksin. “At the same time I will offer to make him my adviser.”
Thaksin was toppled in a 2006 military coup after being accused of abuse of power and disrespect to Thailand’s monarch. He was sentenced in absentia to two years in prison for breaking a conflict-of-interest law.
Still, he remains a powerful and divisive influence on Thai politics. Mass protests and clashes between his supporters and opponents have periodically destabilized the country.
The current Thai government is considered allied with anti-Thaksin forces and is keen to prevent him from staging any kind of political comeback. His Thai passport has been cancelled.
Analysts said recent tensions over a disputed border may have prompted Hun Sen to so openly back Thaksin.
Relations between Cambodia and Thailand are already strained by a sometimes violent border dispute over a parcel of land around an 11th century Khmer temple.
Thai leaders for their part were keen to downplay any tension with their neighbour over Hun Sen’s remarks.
“We’re here to build a community, which means solidarity, which means unity. I don’t want (Hun Sen) to be a victim or a pawn for somebody that undermines the interests of his country, and the interests of the region,” Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said.
The Cambodian leader, the longest serving head of government in Southeast Asia, roiled the climate ahead of the summit Wednesday by meeting a senior member ofThailand’s main opposition party and telling him that Thaksin was welcome in Cambodia.
“It appears that Hun Sen also wants to openly ally himself with rivals of Abhisit’s government because he hasn’t been happy with how this government has handled the border dispute,” said Sukhum Nuansakul, a political scientist at Bangkok’s Ramkhamhaeng University. “The issue of Thaksin is one that was sure to cause jitters inThailand.”
Thai officials said they would seek Thaksin’s legal return should he visit Cambodia by invoking an extradition treaty between the two countries.
But in a statement Friday, Cambodia said it has “the legal ground to absolutely reject any extradition” because a request would be based on a “political offence.”
Hun Sen described Thaksin’s battles with his own government as an internal affair of Thailand and said he would not interfere. But he compared Thaksin’s status to that Myanmar’s detained pro-democracy leader, whose continued detention is a point of discussion within ASEAN.
“People talk about Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar, why can’t (they be) talking about Thaksin?” he asked.
Abhisit said he believed Hun Sen was “seriously misinformed” and that he doubted many people around the world would liken Thaksin to Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace laureate who has been under detention for 14 of the last 20 years.
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Despite gushing official statements, the Abhisit government’s performance at the recent Asean Summit was disappointing.
The so-called achievements in Hua Hin and Cha-am were too little compared with the huge budget spent in organising the three-day event.
The 15th summit got off on an inauspicious start, as four heads of state and government failed to show up at the official opening.
The Thai-Cambodian spat over deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra did not contribute in any way to the grouping’s quest for unity, friendship and cooperation.
Prime Minister Abhisit’s tit-for-tat against his Cambodian counterpart was uncalled for, as Thailand was the host of the meeting. He should have reserved his criticism for some other occasion.
Many issues have been left unsolved after the meeting, including the lifting of import tax among the 10 member countries, the Thai-Philippine rice tariff, free investment regulations, and the fate of Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi.
Asean’s dream of becoming a unified community remains just that _ a distant dream. If Thailand and Cambodia are still at each other’s throats, how can the group become unified?
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Thursday, 29 October 2009
By James O’toole and Joel Quenby
The Phnom Penh Post
DEPOSED Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has told supporters he plans to travel to Cambodia, a Thai opposition source and media reports said Wednesday.
Speaking to members of the Puea Thai party – known as the Red Shirts – by video conference Tuesday, Thaksin announced plans to travel to Cambodia following an invitation from Prime Minister Hun Sen to serve as his economic adviser, said a woman identified as a Puea Thai member but who refused to give her name.
“Thaksin said he would fly to Cambodia soon to thank Hun Sen,” the Bangkok Post quoted another anonymous Puea Thai official as saying.
Bangkok says it would seek extradition if Thaksin – ousted in a 2006 coup and self-exiled to avoid jail on corruption charges – sought refuge inCambodia.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said the government has had no official communication with Thaksin recently, but that a visit toCambodia was plausible. “I think it could be true, because so far, Prime Minister Hun Sen has given the green light to [Thaksin],” Koy Kuong said.
The source said, however, that Puea Thai was unsure such a visit would be prudent.
“We don’t agree with the idea of Thaksin going to Cambodia.… He’s caused so much trouble for the country recently that he needs to fix before he goes to Cambodia,” she said.
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Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyuth (pictured), chairman of the opposition Puea Thai Party, will visit Malaysia at the invitation of the country’s prime minister, lawyer and close associate of fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, Noppadon Pattama, said on Wednesday.
Mr Noppadon denied a report that he was arranging Gen Chavalit’s visits to Malaysia and other neighbouring countries. He also denied that Thaksin was involved.
“The plan to visit Malaysia and Burma came from Gen Chavalit as he has good relations with leaders of the two countries,” he said.
Mr Noppadon also denied that Gen Chavalit’s plan to discuss the problems in the far South with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was a bid to paint the Democrat-led government’s efforts to end the insurgency in a bad light.
“Gen Chavalit was invited to share various opinions with the Malaysian leader,” he said.
Gen Chavalit said on Tuesday that he will next week visit the lower South for briefings and after that go to Malaysia and Burma. The former premier said he would use his personal connections with leaders of neighbouring countries to help clear up their misunderstandings about Thailand.
Government acting spokesman Panithan Wattanayakorn said on Wednesday that Gen Chavalit’s trip to the southernmost provinces would not improve the situation. The Puea Thai chairman had totally failed to solve the problem when he was in government.
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Bangkok Post – Post Bag
I figure that the recent re-igniting of the man-love flame between Thaksin and Hun Sen must have some ulterior motive. Here’s my theory, and it shouldn’t sound so far-fetched in light of events in Central America. Manuel Zelaya stoked the fiery passions of his supporters by momentarily crossing the border into his native Honduras from neighbouring Nicaragua, and then by taking refuge in the Brazilian embassy within the borders of his own country.
Now let’s draw some parallels and you can join the dots. Cambodia shares a border with Thailand, and also has an embassy in the simmering cauldron that is Bangkok. The red shirts seem to be itching for a spark of inspiration. If Thaksin were to pull a Zelaya, the political situation in Thailand might just reach boiling point. My only advice to Thaksin: please wear a silly looking hat so we have something to laugh at amidst this political inferno.
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Wednesday, 28 October 2009
By James O’Toole
The Phnom Penh Post
Thai police protecting the Cambodian embassy during the demonstration.
THAILAND will send a diplomatic note to Cambodia to “clarify” the legal status of deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, theThai Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday as about 100 Thai protesters converged outside the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok to decry Prime Minister Hun Sen’s show of support for the exiled former leader.
Hun Sen last week offered a safe haven in Cambodia to Thaksin, suggesting that the fugitive billionaire serve as his economic adviser. Thaksin was ousted in a 2006 coup and self-exiled to avoid a jail term on corruption charges.
The Thai government, which hosted Hun Sen and other regional leaders at the 15th ASEAN summit in the resort town of Hua Hin, said it would pursue extradition of Thaksin if he sought refuge onCambodian soil. The Cambodian government, however, responded on Friday by issuing a statement that it would not comply.
Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs deputy spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said Bangkok suspects Hun Sen is “misinformed” about Thaksin and will therefore send a letter clarifying the ex-prime minister’s legal status “hopefully by the end of this week”.
“We just wanted to make sure that the Cambodian side and Hun Sen have all the relevant facts at hand,” Thani said, explaining that the communique will consist of “an information paper detailing all the facts and the latest status of the legal cases related to the former prime minister for the information of theCambodian side”.
Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban met with Hun Sen on Saturday at the ASEAN summit to “update him on the situation” regarding Thaksin, Thani added.
Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said Thailand was welcome to communicate further about Thaksin through diplomatic channels.
“It’s up to the Thai side if they want to send a note or more information about that,” he said, declining to comment on whether the Cambodian government felt it had been misinformed about Thaksin.
Panitan Wattanayagorn, the deputy secretary general to the Thai prime minister on political affairs, said Sunday that his government has a duty to ensure that cases involving Thai nationals in Cambodia are handled according to bilateral agreements, adding that Thai authorities are unsure of Thaksin’s present location.
“For the time being, we are not able to confirm the whereabouts of this particular person,” he said.
‘Insulting to all Thais’
At the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok, protest leader Chaiwat Sinsuwong, a leading member of the anti-Thaksin Yellow Shirt movement, told the crowd thatHun Sen’s remarks had “shown hostility” to Thailand and had interfered in the country’s internal affairs. “His comments were insulting to all Thais and destroyed bilateral relations,” Chaiwat said.
Thai police tightened security around the embassy, placing about 150 officers on guard for the rally, which dispersed without violence after two hours, district police commander Samit Choensa-ard said.
Chheang Vannarith, executive director of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, said Thaksin’s presence in Cambodia would prompt further demonstrations of this sort and “may harm the Cambodians living and working in Thailand”.
Diplomatically, however, there would be little recourse for the government of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to pursue Thaksin if Cambodia were to deny his extradition, said Josh Kurlantzick, a Southeast Asia expert with the Council on Foreign Relations.
“I don’t think Abhisit really has many options here, if Thaksin is on Cambodian soil,” he said Saturday.
In a statement released on Tuesday afternoon, the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh sought to quash speculation that the morning’s protest had gotten out of control.
“The Thai embassy in Cambodia would like to dispel the rumour that there was a demonstration in which Cambodia’s embassy in Thailand was burned down,” the statement read.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP AND CHEANG SOKHA
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Wed, Oct 28, 2009
BANGKOK, THAILAND – AROUND 100 Thai protesters (pictured) rallied on Tuesday outside the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok after the neighbouring country’s premier offered refuge to fugitive former Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra.
Outspoken Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen last week offered safe haven to Thaksin – who was ousted in a coup in 2006 and is living abroad to avoid corruption charges – and suggested he take a job as his finance adviser.
Mr Hun Sen’s comments cast a pall over a summit of Asian leaders hosted by Thailand at the weekend and have riled the Thai government, which says that Cambodia must extradite Thaksin if he steps foot on Cambodian soil.
‘Hun Sen’s action intentionally showed hostility to Thailand, its government and its military as well as the Thai people. It is interference in Thai politics,’ said Bangkok protest leader Chaiwat Sinsuwong, adding that Mr Hun Sen should apologise.
Mr Chaiwat is a key member of Thailand’s ‘Yellow Shirt’ movement, which hounded Thaksin’s allies out of government last year by blockading Bangkok’s airports, but Tuesday’s protest was not officially staged by the group.
Security was tightened around the embassy with around 150 officers on guard for the rally, which dispersed without violence after two hours, said district police commander Colonel Samit Choensa-ard.
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The Bangkok Post
Ex-PM wants to thank Hun Sen for job offer
Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra insists he will go to Cambodia to thank Prime Minister Hun Sen for laying out the welcome mat for him.
Thaksin confirmed his plan yesterday via a video link to a meeting of the Puea Thai Party amid a simmering conflict that has arisen between Thailand and Cambodia over his status.
Thaksin said he would fly to Cambodia soon to thank Hun Sen, a party source said.
Thaksin said he and Hun Sen had been friends for a long time.
Thaksin also thanked Puea Thai’s new chairman, Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, for “doing the right thing”.
He denied having any businesses in Cambodia, saying he had sold them all before entering politics, the source said.
Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban yesterday claimed he had cleared up Hun Sen’s misunderstanding of Thaksin’s situation.
Mr Suthep, who is in charge of national security, said he told Hun Sen Thaksin had not been bullied. He had broken the law and the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions had jailed him for two years after a proper judicial hearing.
He explained Thaksin was not living in exile because of the 2006 coup.
Mr Suthep said Thaksin was fielding members of the political party he controls in elections and they had won. But two party prime ministers had to step down because they had violated the law.
“It’s too late to say he has been unfairly treated. If he accepted the constitution and had not fielded candidates in the general election, it would be another story,” Mr Suthep said.
“Prime Minister Hun Sen understands this point well.”
The Cambodian prime minister was told that if he allowed Thaksin to live in exile in Cambodia, Thailand would use international law to seek his extradition.
“I said it was fine because the law will not be interpreted by me and Mr Hun Sen alone. There is an extradition process, and the court might be the one ruling on the extradition,” he said.
The Cambodian premier said on his arrival at the Asean summit in Thailand last weekend that his government would allow Thaksin to take refuge inCambodia and work as his economic adviser. Cambodia would not extradite him if asked by Thailand as Thaksin had been unfairly treated, he said.
The Foreign Ministry is preparing to issue a statement explaining the facts relating to Thaksin’s status in response to the remarks by Hun Sen. The statement will be sent to the Cambodian government as the ministry believed the remark was a result of misinformation, said Chavanond Intarakomalyasut, secretary to Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya.
Army chief Anupong Paojinda yesterday insisted Hun Sen’s stance on Thaksin had no effect on the situation along the Thai-Cambodian border.