The army will not force out Cambodians living in the disputed area near Preah Vihear temple, as residents in Si Sa Ket are demanding, army chief Anupong Paojinda said yesterday. Gen Anupong said the issue must be settled by the government and stressed there is no army policy to end territorial disputes by military measures.
The government preferred to use existing international protocols, he said.
He said he was confident the Thai and Cambodian governments could settle the controversy over Preah Vihear at the negotiating table.
Thailand was unsuccessful in its attempts to convince the World Heritage Committee (WHC) to postpone the listing of the temple opposite Kantharalak district in Si Sa Ket province.
Bangkok wanted a joint nomination to help resolve the issue of disputed land around the temple.
Pongpol Adireksan, the chairman of Thailand’s World Heritage Committee, said the overlapping area could be turned into a Thai-Cambodia peace park once a seven-nation committee was appointed to manage the temple and surroundings.
The WHC proposed that a Thai representative sit on the seven-nation International Coordination Committee to safeguard and develop Preah Vihear.
Meanwhile, Cambodia’s retired king Norodom Sihanouk yesterday chastised Thai critics of the listing of the ancient temple as a World Heritage site.
The former king said in a handwritten communique that Thai critics of the deal, who allege the main entrance to the temple is in Thailand, and not Cambodia, have ignored ”historic facts”.
Thai critics were ”absolutely wrong” and stoke ”meanness” which ”causes undeserved and anachronistic grief to Cambodia and its people concerning the Preah Vihear temple, instead of devoting ourselves to harmonious and fruitful development of our friendship”, Sihanouk said.
Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong has stated that neither Cambodia or Thailand lost any territory from the ruling, but he was concerned that growing nationalist Thai sentiment could harm relations.