2nd August 2008
“Thailand has come to the negotiations because it has no choice due to international condemnation but most importantly, it came to the negotiating table as a mean to buy time and prolong the occupation until such time Cambodia agrees to share the areas or partitioning the lands.”
The editorial “When Cambodia Cries Wolf” published in Thailand’s The Nation newspaper on 1st of August deserves my attention and warrants my strong response. As someone who believe in the truth, not the twisted truth, such an unfair comment should not be allowed to go unchallenged. And hence, comes my following response.
“Cambodia knows exactly when and where to hit Thailand to inflict the most pain to its neighbour to the east. Repeated attempts by Phnom Penh to raise the Preah Vihear dispute in the international level in forums such as the United Nations and the Non-Aligned Movement shows a lack of sincerity and ill intentions.” The Nation
With such a truth twisted by the article in The Nation newspaper above, one could not let it goes without a response. Thailand, as an invader, cannot cry foul when it comes to the issue of Preah Vihear. The world, in particular Thailand, knew full well that Preah Vihear was and is the exclusive property of Cambodia. The documents and maps from the 1904 and 1907 treaty, signed between Cambodia and Thailand, showed clearly that Preah Vihear temple and the so-called “overlapping area” are located inside Cambodian territories. And hence, Thailand has no right whatsoever regarding the affairs of Preah Vihear.
Even though Preah Vihear temple is an exclusive property of Cambodia, Cambodia has shown sincerity and good intentions all along. It has showed goodwill by agreeing to consult with Thailand about the listing of the temple. Cambodia was very patient when Thailand twice blocked the listing of Preah Vihear.
So, talking about the lack of sincerity and ill intentions, The Nation cannot say it better than that, but it should be said of Thailand rather than of Cambodia. Thailand has shown its lack of sincerity all along. It has blocked Cambodia’s attempt to list the Preah Vihear temple twice, in 2006 and 2007. Thailand has back-flipped on its decision to support the listing of Preah Vihear on several occasions. It signed a joint communiqué with Cambodia to support the listing and then withdrew it. Is this what The Nation called sincerity and good intention?
And what sincerity and good intentions has Thailand shown to Cambodia when it sent its troops to invade the Cambodian territories in the Preah Vihear area? The Nation was talking about resolving the Preah Vihear issue “in an amicable way without being aggressive”. The author cannot say it better, but again, it should be referred to Thailand’s belligerent and aggressive behaviour of sending in the troops to occupy Cambodian territories. The “amicable way” to resolve the dispute had not been taken by Thailand when it flexed its military might and muscles after it sent the troops to occupy a Buddhist temple and a Cambodian village with over 900 villagers living, by terrorizing them into fleeing en masse. On the other hand, Cambodia had chosen to resolve the Thai invasion “in an amicable way” by not ordering its troops to open fire and by trying to engage Thailand diplomatically to peacefully resolve the issue. But up until now Thailand has steadfastly refused to withdraw its troops. Any other countries would have gone to the UN Security Council or the World Court already.
The article also envisaged a solution within the ASEAN framework and not trying to internationalise the issue. Cambodia is a member of ASEAN and when this grouping refused to heed Cambodia’s call for help, Cambodia has the right to seek other venue to for help and in this case the UN which Cambodia is also a member. Thailand has successfully blocked ASEAN from stepping in and it opposed taking the issue to the UN as it did not want the issue internationalised. Thailand knew full well that it had encroached on Cambodian territories in many places along the border. Thailand is opposed to the internationalisation of the issue because it would expose more of Thai encroachments. This is what Thailand did not want.
Cambodia did not need to tarnish Thailand’s reputation. Thailand’s own actions regarding the Preah Vihear issue will tarnish Thailand’s reputation by itself.
By not taking the issue of Thailand’s invasion to the UN Security Council, Cambodia has shown its goodwill, sincerity and good intentions. Up until now, Thailand has shown nothing of sort. Thailand still refused to withdraw its troops. Thailand has come to the negotiations because it has no choice due to international condemnation but most importantly, it came to the negotiating table as a mean to buy time and prolong the occupation until such time Cambodia agrees to share the areas or partitioning the lands.
Cambodia should not play this game of a diplomatic hide-and-seek with Thailand any longer. Cambodia must stop negotiating with Thailand and take the issue of Thai invasion to the UN Security Council if Thailand still refuse to make a full and complete withdrawal. The two negotiations in the past were games played by Thailand to buy time and prolong the occupation until the international community lost interests in the issue and then the Thai occupation would become a fait accompli. This is the outcome that Thailand would hope for by playing a diplomatic hide-and-seek with Cambodia. Cambodia must not allow itself to fall into Thailand’s trap.//
1. Related article: Who’s The Crying Wolf?
2. More article: Thailand’s Croc Tears Over Preah Vihear