Here's a link to the HRW report. Better than nothing I suppose, HRW and AI have both been accused og being partial. AI so much that the Malaysian AI chapter was planning to hold a meeting on the Thai AI chapter.
Just days after announcing an agreement that would send teams of Indonesia military observers, Cambodia and Thailand are once again trading recriminations over their disputed border and putting the observer arrangement in doubt.
On Monday, Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong met with Thai FM Kasit Piromya following a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Jakarta in an attempt to finalise the terms of the observers’ deployment. The men were joined by Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, who has attempted to mediate the dispute since clashes first broke out along the border in February near Preah Vihear temple.
Following the meeting, Natalegawa told reporters that the agreement had “exceeded my expectations”, praising the two countries for overcoming their differences. Yesterday, however, it appeared that they were back where they started.
Speaking to journalists in Bangkok, Kasit reportedly said Cambodia must withdraw its troops from territory adjacent to Preah Vihear that is claimed by both sides before the observers can be deployed.
"If [Cambodia] refuses to withdraw, the observers can't come," Kasit said, according to the Bangkok Post.
Kasit’s comments echoed calls made by the Thai military in recent weeks as the two sides continued to bicker over the observer arrangement. At the ASEAN summit in Jakarta on Saturday, Prime Minister Hun Sen blasted this demand, saying it was “irrational and unacceptable” for a foreign country to demand the withdrawal of troops from what Cambodia sees as its territory.
Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong reiterated this stance yesterday, accusing Thailand of sabotaging this week’s agreement.
“We cannot do that. We will not allow any foreign country to oust Cambodian people from Cambodian territory,” he said. “This shows the unfaithfulness of the current Thai leadership, which is why we cannot trust them.”
The International Court of Justice in The Hague is set to convene a hearing later this month in a case brought by Cambodia requesting that the court reinterpret its 1962 judgment that awarded Preah Vihear to Cambodia. Cambodia has asked the court to also make a determination on the sovereignty of the territory surrounding the temple, and in the interim, to order Thai troops to withdraw from the area. Cambodia and Thailand originally agreed on the observer proposal during a meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers in February that followed deadly clashes near Preah Vihear. The Thai military later backed out of the deal, however, and last month, fighting broke out along the border near Oddar Meanchey province that stretched for 11 days and left 18 people dead.
Nobody can actually do anything unless both sides agree.
The Cambodians have been trying to internationalise the conflict and were successful to an extent. The were allowed to present their case to the UN security council and the managed to get ASEAN interested.
The Thais are against it because it would mean neutral observers ultimately on the ground, something they don't want because they know they're holding the weaker cards.
Also, as Jack pointed out, there are still 6 weeks to the election.
There has been no shooting for about two weeks now.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands, May 19 (UPI) -- The International Court of Justice said Thursday that hearings were scheduled next week on a request to review a 1962 ruling on the Preah Vihear temple.
Public hearings are set for Monday and Tuesday at the Hague to consider the 1962 case, a dispute between Cambodia and Thailand over sovereignty.
Cambodia called on the ICJ to clarify the meaning of a ruling on the Preah Vihear temple. Cambodia notes that the court ruled that it has sovereignty over the temple as a "direct and automatic consequence of its sovereignty over the territory on which the temple is situated," the court said in a May 3 summary. Furthermore, Thailand is under an obligation to pull its forces out of the area.
"Cambodia asserts that Thailand disagrees with all of these points,'" the summary read.
Conflicts between Cambodia and Thailand are centered on the 11th-century temple listed as a World Heritage Site in 2008. International courts ruled in 1962 that the temple was in Cambodia though parts of the temple grounds are in Thai territory.
Thai and Cambodian forces agreed to a shaky cease-fire in late April following a week of border clashes between the Asian neighbors over the area.
I really enjoy this thread as I have no experience or education about this part of the world. To have your perspective and your providing information is a gift. Thank you hwinpp, I love learning. Cheers, Mich
The Cambodians aren't very perturbed, they're pretty sure they're in the right.
There have been no demonstrations, no nothings, against Thai businesses. My girlfriend still is asked for Thai lessons at the market (something she doesn't understand...) they're all friendly to her and other Thai friends I have here.
The Cambodians know very well who is behind all these problems on the border.
PM slams Thaksin for accusing Thailand of invading Cambodia
BANGKOK, 31 May 2011 (NNT) – Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has lambasted ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra for his remark that Thailand initiated the border dispute by intruding on Cambodian soil while insisting that Thailand has been a helpful neighbor.
Mr Thaksin recently gave an interview to foreign media and claimed that Thailand was the one who first invaded Cambodian territory and, in turn, exacerbated the border conflict between the two nations. As a response, Prime Minister Abhisit denounced such a statement, saying he was in disbelief that it came from a former prime minister of Thailand, who was supposed to protect his own nation instead of damaging its image. The Prime Minister assumed that Mr Thaksin might have said so as an advisor to the Cambodian government.
Mr Abhisit confirmed that Thailand had constantly provided the neighboring country with assistance in many areas, ranging from national establishment and social unity to trade and investment. He then attributed the prevailing border rifts to a past government’s mistakes while his administration had only been struggling to find an exit.
In regard to Cambodia’s attempt to pressure the International Court of Justice to issue a verdict against Thailand in the Preah Vihear Temple case, the Prime Minister believed it would not be effective while deeming it normal for Cambodia to do its best to put the blame on Thailand.
Prime Minister Hun Sen said troops stationed on Cambodia’s border with Thailand were on high alert yesterday, after Bangkok announced it was withdrawing from talks at the UNESCO World Heritage Committee on Saturday.
At a graduation ceremony at Phnom Penh’s Chaktumok Hall yesterday, the premier said he feared clashes could erupt after Thailand reportedly walked out of the Paris talks over the weekend.
“They were angry walking out from the summit and they whispered to one ambassador that they will go back to fight. Therefore, I ordered the military to immediately [start] monitoring the situation from midnight [on Sunday],” he claimed, adding that all troops along the border were on high alert.
Thai National Army chief Prayuth Chanocha had also placed his border forces on alert, the Bangkok Post reported yesterday.
“Thai and Cambodian soldiers have been in contact on a regular basis since the last clashes along the border, but there’s not a high degree of trust between them yet,” the Bangkok Post quoted Prayuth as saying.
Also yesterday, UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova issued a statement expressing her “deep regret” that Thai minister Suwit Khunkitti had declared Thailand’s intention to denounce the 1972 World Heritage Convention – a treaty designed to advance the protect-ion and preservation of cultural and natural sites – during the talks.
UNESCO said the World Heritage Committee had made a decision on the matter that “further encourages the two countries to use the 1972 Convention as a tool to support conservation, sustainable development and dialogue”.
The statement also denied “widely circulated” media reports that discussion of Cambodia’s proposed management plan for the Preah Vihear temple was discussed during the 10-day summit that began in Paris on June 19.
Suwit Khunkitti had cited the refusal of a Thai proposal to delay the proposed plan as one of the reasons Thailand had withdrawn from the summit, the Bangkok Post reported on Sunday.
The UNESCO statement noted that a request by Thailand to adjourn debate was “not supported by any other member” of the WHC.
Thai Government and military officials could not be reached for comment yesterday. A UNESCO spokesperson declined to comment further.
The government's decision to walk away from the World Heritage Convention is troubling on several levels. The group is part of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, and Unesco has always been an unreliable arm of the UN. But the reason given by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to quit the WHC seems more of a technical problem than an outright threat to the nation. Indeed, Mr Abhisit's initial attempt to explain why Thailand is pulling all support from the convention is confusing and unconvincing.
According to Mr Abhisit, the members of the World Heritage Committee, meeting in Paris, are determined to move ahead on a plan by Cambodia to manage the Preah Vihear temple. A few words in the draft version of the plan are troubling. The Cambodian-written submission says that the temple needs "restoration" and "repair". The prime minister says that these references might be construed to mean that Thailand had damaged Preah Vihear, maybe during the recent and deadly military battles in the southern area of Si Sa Ket. But Mr Abhisit's justification of a walkout over this possibility is as vague as the wording itself.
The premier said the actual decision to walk away from the WHC was made by the minister of natural resources and environment. Suwit Khunkitti has performed admirably and for a very long time over this issue. When he phoned Mr Abhisit in Bangkok to tell him of the walkout, Mr Abhisit backed him. Shortly afterwards, the Cambodian proposal was amended, and the reference to repair was removed. Too late, Mr Abhisit and Mr Suwit claim.
Unesco chief Irina Bokova said she regrets the Thai decision, and hopes the government will reconsider. That is a problem because of the election, and Mr Abhisit has washed his hands of the issue and handed it to the next prime minister. Ms Bokova claimed that the Cambodian plan for temple management never was discussed formally.
The recent encounters with the World Heritage organisation, and indeed with Cambodia, are sadly reminiscent of the 1962 legal case. Back then, Thai authorities were certain that the country's case for ownership of Khao Phra Viharn was obvious. Contemporary media reports show that MR Seni Pramoj was in a positively jaunty mood as he set off for the International Court of Justice. Everyone could see that the temple was clearly in Thailand. What could go wrong? Cambodia, on the other hand, went to the World Court with fiercely prepared advocates, who convinced the judges that the law was on their side.
The public presentation of this year's case to both the ICJ and the World Heritage Committee meeting has been woefully inadequate.
In one speech last year, Mr Abhisit called on the nation to support the government over the issue but presented no case to the public. Instead, he backtracked and flip-flopped. Only last February, on his regular television talk, the premier said Thailand would never quit the World Heritage Committee. He said Unesco supported the Thai position, and that the WHC would surely reject the Cambodian plan to manage the temple and its grounds.
When the going got tough, Thailand got going. It lowers the respect for Thailand in world opinion. It even gave Pheu Thai one more issue with which to criticise the government. Thailand now is out in the cold while the WHC discusses the future of Preah Vihear temple. Thailand must rejoin the Unesco group, to protect the country's interests.
Good article. But I'd disagree with Thailand was regarded as the natural leader of the ASEAN bloc and an example for other democratizing nations to follow.
Thailand has had 18 coups in the last 50 years. It was never a beacon of democracy nor a country that neighbours saw as an example to follow. That goes to Singapore. The only country with a worse reputation than Thailand in South East Asia is the Philippines. Burma doesn't count ;D
In fact for all its neighbours it's been a source of aggression and ridicule.
PHNOM PENH - CAMBODIA on Monday welcomed a sweeping election victory in neighbouring Thailand by allies of fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who has strong links with Phnom Penh.
Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said he hoped the new Thai government, led by Thaksin's sister Yingluck Shinawatra, would help resolve a long and sometimes bloody border dispute between the neighbouring countries.
'It's obvious - we cannot hide that we are happy with the Puea Thai Party's victory,' Hor Namhong told reporters in the Cambodian capital. 'We hope that the new government that will emerge from the Puea Thai Party will resolve problems with Cambodia in a more positive and peaceful way' than the previous government, he said.
The border between the two nations has never been fully demarcated and two episodes of fierce fighting between their armies along the frontier earlier this year left at least 28 people dead. A major flashpoint is the ancient Preah Vihear temple, with both sides claiming ownership of a small patch of land near the ruins.
Thaksin, who was ousted by the military in a 2006 coup, has close ties with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen who has called him an 'eternal friend'.
He even briefly acted as Cambodia's economics adviser but resigned from the role last August amid much controversy. -- AFP
Nice take on Sam Rainsy and Norodom Ranariddh here by the last two US ambassadors:
Opposition highs and lows
As one-time Funcinpec leader and National Assembly President Norodom Ranariddh was forced from the parliamentary leadership in 2006, US embassy officials cast a worried eye over the state of political pluralism in the Kingdom, according to newly released diplomatic cables.
“What is disturbing is that the [Sam Rainsy Party] is on the sidelines, cheering on FUNCINPEC’s problems, just as FUNCINPEC did nothing to assist the SRP when Hun Sen was attacking the opposition during 2005,” a March 2006 cable states. “Both parties believe they would be beneficiaries of the other’s demise; unfortunately, neither party leader trusts the other enough to overcome past differences and work together to achieve the reforms needed within the Cambodian government.”
The American diplomatic cables released on Tuesday detail the struggles of the Royalist movement through the middle of the past decade, from the perceived frustrations of Ranariddh in being passed over for the kingship to the corruption allegations that dogged the party as Hun Sen sought to oust them from the coalition government. At the same time, the halting reform efforts of the SRP are depicted in the on-again, off-again relations between Sam Rainsy and Hun Sen.
With the 2004 coronation of King Norodom Sihamoni, who drew praise in the cables from American diplomats for his graceful and unassuming style, Ranariddh is said to have displayed “petulance” and alienated fellow Funcinpec members in his apparent frustration at being passed over. Eating dinner with US diplomats in October 2004, three senior Funcinpec officials reportedly “expressed grave doubt in Ranariddh’s leadership ability, suggesting that, rather than raising his stature, he is increasingly making himself a laughing stock”.
As years pass, American diplomats see the once-powerful party undone. “Because of corruption and nepotism, the party is losing support from the people and talented officials, such as the SRP’s Mu Sochua, have left the party,” a Funcinpec party member tells American diplomats, later saying most of the royalist party’s officials were “weak and interested only in womanizing and money”.
Cambodian People’s Party official Prum Sokha, meanwhile, reportedly complained that Funcinpec officials “have bloated the staffing of ministries with relatives and party members without consideration of qualifications or interest in the jobs”.
A former Funcinpec secretary general reportedly complains in a May 2006 cable that party leader Nhek Bun Chhay and the rest of the party have been almost totally co-opted by the ruling party; Sirivudh thus terms the party “HUNSENPEC”. Deputy Prime Minister Nhek Bun Chhay said yesterday that allegations that he had sold out the party to the CPP were “for political interest”, and defended cooperation with the ruling CPP since 1993. Norodom Ranariddh party spokesman Pen Sangha could not be reached.
As Ranariddh’s star fell, Sam Rainsy reportedly enjoyed a period of rapprochement with Hun Sen upon returning to the Kingdom in 2006, having fled in relation to a defamation case the previous year. A cable signed by Ambassador Mussomeli from February 2006 recounts a meeting in which Sam Rainsy outlined his strategy for “reconciliation” with Hun Sen. Sam Rainsy was allowed to return to the Kingdom that month following his pardon for a defamation conviction.
“Hun Sen decides everything in Cambodia, and the government institutions, e.g., the courts, the parliament, are just a ‘facade,’ complained Rainsy,” Mussomeli stated. “If Cambodia is ruled by one man, then in order to get anything done, one must begin by talking to that man, said the opposition leader, who added it had been a difficult choice.”
An SRP source even told American diplomats in March 2006 that Hun Sen had “recently offered to take opposition leader Sam Rainsy into the government as a deputy prime minister, possibly with broad authority over various ministries”.
“Rainsy reportedly declined, telling the PM that such a move would be ‘political suicide’ for an opposition leader,” according to the source.
But the July 2008 elections, in which the SRP won a disappointing 26 seats, spoiled any chance of his desired “political reconciliation” with Hun Sen and the CPP. During a meeting in August 2008 with Ambassador Mussomeli, “an animated Sam Rainsy” “continued his single-minded crusade to taint CPP’s election victory” with allegations of “massive electoral fraud”, which the US viewed sceptically.
In later years, American diplomats speak of an apparent rivalry between Sam Rainsy and current Human Rights Party leader Kem Sokha, one that has been borne out in recent months as merger talks between the two groups have suffered a bitter collapse. The difficulties for the opposition continued in 2009, as prominent SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua was locked in a legal battle with Prime Minister Hun Sen. Fellow opposition lawmaker Tioulong Saumura, the wife of Sam Rainsy, reportedly criticised Mu Sochua for picking a fight with the government. “It’s crazy to be fighting this battle,” Saumura reportedly said.
The problems culminated later that year, when charges were filed against Sam Rainsy in relation to a protest he staged in October against alleged Vietnamese encroachment in Svay Rieng province. US ambassador Carol Rodley noted in a November cable: “The Sam Rainsy Party has taken a disruptive approach to a major problem and added toxic elements of racism and anti-Vietnamese sentiment to make it worse.”
SRP lawmakers Son Chhay and Yim Sovann could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Just wondering -- is there a relatively clean political party in Cambodia with a goal to develop the country, or are all of the parties just interested in filling their pockets and/or causing the downfall of their rivals?
Human Rights Party, completely marginalized of course, around 5% at the last elections.
Otherwise go with the CPP, the ruling party. Many people forget that they ruled in a coalition with FUNCINPEC from '93 to '98 and had ministers in the government since then in spite of not being in an official coalition.
The second man in the ministry I usually deal with is terrible to have any dealings with. He's from FUNCINPEC, so you can probably guess what he wants.
The last election seems to have been relatively fair (see the cables).
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled today that both Thailand and Cambodia should pull their troops out from the site of an ancient Hindu temple and establish a demilitarized zone around its ruins in order to facilitate negotiations to finally end the long-standing spat between the two countries. The 11-5 ruling from the judges on the court has been adduced by some observers to be a win for Cambodia, as Phnom Penh had instigated the request of the ICJ to mediate the dispute. However, Thailand’s Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, Bangkok’s representative at the court in The Hague, Netherlands, stated that he was satisfied with the decision.
As I wrote last week in an article that appeared in The Diplomat, this dispute between Thailand and Cambodia centers around Preah Vihear, the 11th century Hindu temple located along the border of the two countries. A 1962 ICJ ruling gave sovereignty of the temple to Cambodia, a point Thailand does not debate. Thailand, however, claims the land surrounding the temple.
It was a relatively benign issue since the initial ruling, but the conflict took on heightened significance in 2008. The ratcheting up of hostilities coincided with large scale street protests in Thailand organized by the People’s Alliance for Democracy (“Yellow Shirts”), the ultra-nationalistic collection of royalists, socialites, and oligarchic elites who successfully toppled an opposition-led government and politicized the temple dispute into a matter of national pride. Thailand’s passive reaction to the ICJ’s decision, amalgamated with the PAD’s abysmal showing in the country’s elections earlier this month, likely connotes that the conflict will retreat back into relative obscurity.
The new Pheu Thai government, led by soon-to-be Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, will come into office in August. Relations between Thailand and Cambodia are on track to improve significantly due to the political transition in Bangkok. Yingluck’s brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, briefly served as an economic advisor to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in 2009, a move that damaged relations between Phnom Penh and Bangkok even further. Moreover, Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Nam Hong remarked after the recently concluded Thai elections that, “it’s true, we can’t hide that we are happy with the victory by Pheu Thai Party in Bangkok.”
Students of applied international relations know that a ruling from the ICJ becomes international law, although there is no enforcement mechanism to ensure compliance. It is not anticipated in this case that either Thailand or Cambodia will disregard the court’s judgment.
Summarized from the Cambodia Daily. Two men were arrested for buying a kilo of Marijuana from two elderly farmers in Prey Veng. Chan Sophal, district police chief said: "We arrested the two men, who bought the marijuana for 50,000 riel (about $12.50) after our police got a report from the good people in the district." "Later on, we investigated and found out the two elderly men were growing marijuana on their farms for the treatment of sick chickens and cows, and we confiscated a total of 8.45 kg." Mr Sophal added that police decided not to arrest the two aging farmers because they were "too old." "It is the first time in Peam Ror district that we found two old men were growing marijuana on their farms for treatment of their animals, it is their tradition," adding that they were given stern warnings and were ordered to sign an agreement to stop growing cannabis. The two motodops who bought the cannabis are being detained at Prey Veng prison ahead of their trial.
Interesting and rather bland end to that volatile conflict. Well, if this holds true: It is not anticipated in this case that either Thailand or Cambodia will disregard the court’s judgment.
It's gratifying to hear that Prey Vang has good people, including cops who respect the venerable. ;D
The growing of marijuana for medical use in the early days of the US was common. One source says it was used for veterinary medicine in the US up into the 1920s. Another source gives this list showing how prevalent cannabis was in animal remedies.
The 21st Brigade of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Division 2 became the latest unit to be withdrawn from the Thai-Cambodian border near Preah Vihear temple yesterday, with three more units scheduled to be pulled back within the week.
The unit, which was not based within a newly-created demilitarised zone around the 11th-century temple, has been removed from the border as Thailand and Cambodia prepare for a meeting of the new Regional Border Committee later this month.
Diplomatic relations between the two countries appear to have warmed since the election of Thailand’s Puea Thai party last month, bolstering hopes of a resolution to the ongoing border conflict following deadly clashes earlier this year.
“The withdrawal of Brigade 21 today is the third time that we’ve pulled out troops from the area around the Preah Vihear temple,” said RCAF Deputy Commander Chea Tara in a statement released yesterday.
“We will continue to make arrangements to pull out more troops, as Prime Minister Hun Sen’s aim is to increase cooperation between the two governments and avoid conflict.”
Defence Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat said yesterday that the removal of troops from the border was a symbol of goodwill and trust between the two governments.
“They share our desire to avoid continued conflict at the border,” he said. “We will only reinforce troops if there is sufficient cause.”
The Bangkok Post reported yesterday that newly-appointed Thai Defence Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha considers solving the border conflict his top priority.
“I am determined to settle the conflict between the two nations as soon as possible,” The Bangkok Post quoted him as saying.