>Unesco will be asked to delay listing of old temple

>Map of the Franco-Siamese commission produced in 1907.


The Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs will petition Unesco’s World Heritage Committee to postpone the registration of Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site. Committee chairman Pikulkaew Kririksh said the panel believed the Foreign Ministry has breached the constitution, which requires the House’s approval for any agreement which affects the country’s territory.

The ministry lacked transparency in dealing with the issue, she said.

In the interests of national security and preserving bilateral relations, the committee suggested the registration of all parts of the ancient ruins _ the temple complex, ancient structures and the natural surroundings.

In so doing, Thailand should register its part of the temple compound with Unesco. The dual registration would guarantee Thai leverage in negotiating the overlapping maritime area claimed by both sides, she said.

Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama denied claims that Thailand, by supporting Cambodia’s nomination of the temple, had ignored the 1962 verdict of the International Court of Justice, which gave only Preah Vihear temple to Cambodia and not the border area next to it.

Thailand only supported the registration of Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site, he said. The kingdom had never accepted the borderline fixed by Cambodia in 1962.

The temple was not a subject in negotiations on the border demarcation between the two countries, Mr Noppadon said.

Thailand had protested to Cambodia about the construction of houses in disputed areas near the temple, he added.

Mr Noppadon said the adjacent area of 4.6 square kilometres was in an overlapping zone where the ownership between Thailand and Cambodia had yet to be determined.

Cambodia has cited the 1904 France-Siam agreement to claim ownership of the area, while Thailand bases its border on the watershed line.

The joint statement agreed between Thailand and Cambodia on the nomination of the temple was not regarded as a bilateral agreement and did not need parliamentary approval, he said.

The Foreign Ministry and its Treaties and Legal Affairs Department could answer all allegations, he said.

The military confirmed that Thailand had not lost any territory in its move to support the nomination of the temple.

The eviction of Cambodian people from the disputed areas will be carried out under a joint management plan in the next two years.

Mr Noppadon said he would open a website, http://www.thaitruth.info, to reveal the truth and fiction behind the Preah Vihear controversy.

In Si Sa Ket province where the temple partially sits, residents began a ”Dharma walk” yesterday in a campaign to safeguard the Thai part of the ruins, and to push for the eviction of Cambodian people encroaching on the Thai-owned temple stairways.

The 100km walk will end in a rally on Sunday.
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