Monday, 30 June 2008
Courtesy of Phnom Penh Post
Wednesday, 18 June 2008
Following a breakthrough with Thai authorities over disputed territory, a 19-member Cambodian delegation will leave for Canada later this month to secure World Heritage Site status for the 11th century Hindu monument of Preah Vihear.
Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, who is also president of the Cambodian national commission to UNESCO, will lead the delegation to a meeting of the agency's World Heritage Committee in Quebec from July 2 to 10, said Secretary of State for the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, Uch Phoeurn.
The national commission's secretary-general, Tan Theany, and the president of the Preah Vihear National Authority, Ty Yoa, will also attend the meeting, Phoeurn told the Post on June 16.
Preah Vihear, which sits at the summit of an escarpment in the Dangrek mountains, is only one of 10 Cambodian sites nominated for World Heritage listing to be considered at the meeting, Phoeurn said. All were nominated in 1992, when Angkor Wat was listed as a world heritage site.
"I strongly hope that Preah Vihear will be listed," Khmer Civilization Support Foundation chairman Moeung Sonn said at a ceremony in Phnom Penh on June 15 to mark the 46th anniversary of the International Court of Justice's ruling that the temple was owned by Cambodia rather than Thailand.
Thailand had disputed some 4.6 square kilometers of land surrounding the temple, delaying its UNESCO listing. But Cambodia agreed last month to include only the temple in its proposal – a move that Thai authorities have said should pave the way for its acceptance this year.
"It is the first time in Cambodia that the KCSF has celebrated the anniversary," Sonn said at the ceremony, attended by hundreds of people in a park opposite Phnom Penh's Wat Botom.
The event included a photographic exhibition of Preah Vihear temple and information about the ICJ's 1962 ruling in favor of Cambodia.
An appeal for donations during a live screening of the event on CTN raised $24,047, said television presenter Soy Sopheap.
About $14,000 would go toward the cost of the all-day ceremony and the balance would be used for maintaining security at Preah Vihear, Sopheap said.
Meanwhile, an opposition politician has called on the government to release the updated map of the Preah Vihear site that was included in Cambodia's proposal for world heritage listing.
Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay, the chair of the National Assembly commission for foreign affairs, international cooperation, information and media, said a request to see the map had been sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on June 13.
"We will wait one week and if there is no result we will take action based on the law," Chhay told the Post on June 16.
He said the ministry had an obligation to provide a copy of the map to the National Assembly because it needed to provide advice to the government about Preah Vihear temple.
"They insult the National Assembly because they conceal information," Chhay said.
Attempts to seek a reaction from Ministry of Foreign Affairs on January 16 were not successful.
| Written by Cat Barton |
Courtesy of Phnom Penh Post
| Friday, 27 June 2008 |
| As international interest in emerging markets surges, Cambodia’s profile is rising as a key frontier for private equity, with three major funds looking to pour upwards of $450 million into the Kingdom’s economy.|
Cambodia stands out as a rare safe haven from the global credit crunch, due to it un-leveraged economy and bountiful natural resources, said Douglas Clayton, a managing partner of Leopard Cambodia, which is raising $100 million for its Cambodia fund.
“Cambodia offers the best reward to risk profile in the region now, as competition is still low and the country has such vast potential,” he said.
Leopard Cambodia was the first fund to launch in April after raising around a tenth of its targeted $100 million. It is looking for investments of between $5 million and $15 million and its first project is a tourism property development in the Angkor temple town of Siem Reap.
“We are very bullish on tourism growth there, and expect a robust return on this project,” said Clayton.
Leopard was followed into Cambodia’s investment-hungry economy by Frontier Investment & Development Partners (FIDP), a $250 million fund that launched three weeks ago and has so far had strong interest from investors, said its CFA Marvin Yeo.
“Cambodia has untapped oil and gas reserves, large amounts of fertile agricultural land, low labor costs, a stable democratic political system and a dollarized economy with no capital controls where companies can be 100 percent foreign owned,” he said, explaining why so many investors are now flocking to the Kingdom.
“The highest growth levels are found in resource rich frontier economies,” he added.
Yeo said he could not disclose the exact amount of money raised until the fund had achieved its first close. The fund sets a $10 million minimum investment per institution.
“I’m absolutely in no doubt that it [raising the necessary capital] will happen over the next few months,” he said, citing the fund’s investment platform and deals already in the pipeline as key factors in its future success.
The Kingdom’s other major new fund, Cambodia Emerald Limited Partnership, which is looking to raise $100 million to invest in a range of sectors, most importantly agri-business, tourism and real estate, closed its seed round of financing in late April when two investors agreed to back the fund and provide an unspecified amount of capital. The company is now set up and operating and actively looking to do deals.
“We are not in a position at this time to discuss our first projects or targeted returns,” said Peter Brimble, managing director of Cambodia Emerald. “In general, we expect our returns to be consistent with international investors’ expectations for a market like Cambodia.”
Both Leopard and FIDP are expecting returns of least 25 percent on each investment they make.
High rates of return coupled with a business-friendly environment and emerging political stability help explain the record levels of attendance at the Cambodia Investment, Trade and Infrastructure 2007 last November as well as a conference in Siem Reap last month – organized by Leopard Capital – at which 22 mainly US fund managers met assess future opportunities.
“The double-digit economic growth rates of the past few years and indications of relatively high economic growth in the future suggests strong potential for capital gains in Cambodia,” said Brimble.
The recent flurry of high finance activity belies the fact that Malaysian interests have been active in the Kingdom for years and South Koreans have long been investing in banking and property, with a $2 billion satellite city on the outskirts of Phnom Penh and a city-center skyscraper now under construction.
Much to the chagrin of the longstanding expatriate business community in Cambodia, the Kingdom still suffers from something of an image problem – another legacy of the devastation wrought by the 1970s Khmer Rouge regime and the ensuing years of civil strife.
Moreover, rampant corruption – the Berlin-based Transparency International ranked Cambodia the 14th most corrupt out of 179 nations in its 2007 study – and a weak legislative framework have served as a deterrent to large-scale FDI for years.
Despite all the media discussion of these issues in Cambodia, most foreign investors who have been here a while are seeking to expand their Cambodia businesses, not sell them, said Leopard’s Clayton.
“I think that says a lot,” he said. “We expect the emergence of a stock exchange in Cambodia will increase business transparency here, as has been the pattern throughout Southeast Asia.”
For Emerald’s Brimble, there has been a “significant misunderstanding of the Cambodian situation.”
Major improvements in the regulatory and legal environment for business have been quietly inspiring substantial increases in FDI in recent years, he said.
“Ongoing improvements in levels of corruption and the business environment will enable FDI to grow and to thrive,” he said.
Finding enough suitable opportunities to absorb hundreds of millions of dollars of private-equity capital may be another issue for the fund pioneers to grapple with in the not too distant future.
FIDP’s Yeo is confident that it is possible due to the potential of key sectors such as agriculture, infrastructure, oil & gas and real estate which are largely private sector driven.
“Cambodia needs very conservatively at least $5 billion of investment over the next three years,” he said.
“Given that the domestic debt markets are still in their infancy (and that the international debt markets have been largely closed off to Cambodia) and the lack of any domestic public capital market to raise funds, private equity funds and direct investments ... are pretty much the only ways for projects to get funded.”
| Written by Sebastian Strangio |
Courtesy of Phnom Penh Post
|Friday, 27 June 2008|
Tracey SheltonAcleda Bank’s sparkling headquarters in Phnom Penh reflects the rapid growth of financial services in Cambodia, where 24 commercial banks now compete to fund the Kingdom’s development and provide a safe haven for personal wealth away from the traditional hoarding of gold and jewelry.
Out of the rouge,
- Danny John
- June 30, 2008
AS MUCH as $8 billion of precious capital may have to be devoted by ANZ Bank to its expanding Asian operations for them to meet the group's optimistic target of making $1.5 billion of net profits from the region by 2012.
Detailed break-downs by industry analysts of the bank's requirements to back up its ambitious development plans indicate that any net surplus cash on its balance sheet generated by its Australian and New Zealand businesses will have to be channelled to the Asia-Pacific division.
With all of the major banks continuing to downplay the prospects of cash-raising rights issues to fuel future growth amid the global credit crisis, ANZ will be particularly dependent on its local offshoots in Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Cambodia to help fuel their expansion blueprints.
The bank undertook a five-day investors and analysts tour of the region last week, which prompted sector watchers at Credit Suisse and JP Morgan to conclude that around one-fifth of an expanded pool of shareholder funds totalling $40 billion by 2012 would be needed to underpin the Asian growth target.
The analysts have indicated that ANZ could have less than half of that amount in its regional businesses at present.
In the case of JP Morgan, it has suggested the figure might be as low as $2.1 billion once all of the equity stakes in ANZ partnership banks and financial services companies are added together.
The capital demands on ANZ are only set to rise as it seeks to accelerate its involvement in the Chinese banking market, where it has 20% stakes in two regional banks and looks to get a foothold in India as the country slowly opens up its financial services sector to foreign competitors.
"It must be remembered that Asia equals risk, not just growth," said the banking team at JP Morgan.
| Written by Sebastian Strangio and Cheang Sokha |
Courtesy of Phnom Penh Post
|Friday, 27 June 2008|
Vandy RattanaAutomatic teller machines (ATMs) and the planned launch of domestic credit cards mark a turning point for retail banking in Cambodia, as money becomes more readily available – and not necessarily in cash.
On the back of rising personal wealth and economic growth, Cambodia’s small retail banking industry is taking off, fueled by rising trust, access and confidence in the stability of the Kingdom’s financial sector.
According to Higgins, the outlook for Cambodia’s retail financial sector is overwhelmingly positive, and he expects it to continue growing steadily in the coming years.
Currently, Siem Reap is the most famous destination in Cambodia. By the year 2020, Siem Reap will become the foremost jewel of South East Asia tourism. It is the cultural magnet, attracting tourists from the world- not just to the famous temple complex but to the beautiful city, where a thriving population conducts business in harmony with the environment.
The report optimize that by 2020, Siem Reap will have become a "beautiful and unique tourist city based on a harmony of history, arts and Khmer culture," the report states in its strategic vision. "It will have learnt from the implications of Angkorian wisdom for sustainable development and cultural diversity in the 21st century'. www.tourismindochina.com/siem%20reap-attractionsite.htm
The plan was designed to develop the economy, construct necessary infrastructure and maintain the quality of tourism resource and environment in the town. This last concern has also responded to the climate change, the hot global issue, which tourism. It is our commitment that 'Tourism will be at the leading edge of the global response to climate change.' Not only in Cambodia but also in other countries, good environment has vitally played role in thriving the tourism sector.
By CHHEM Samnang
For more information about Travel News in Cambodia: www.tourismindochina.com/travel-news.php
For more information about Cambodia Tours package: www.tourismindochina.com/cambodia-tour-package.php?pn=P1&tn=t1
For more information of Hotel in Cambodia: www.tourismindochina.com/cambodia-hotels.php?pn=hp2&tc=t2
For more information about visa in Cambodia:
HER parents may have suffered greatly in their lives, but Australia's first-born sun bear has started her life in a far more peaceful way.
On the weekend, three-month-old Maly was unveiled to the public at Perth Zoo.
Keeping a watchful eye on her was first-time mother Bopha, who was rescued from poachers in Cambodia some years ago.
Often cradled in her mother's arms, Maly was experiencing the world outside her den for the first time. She was born weighing just 406g on March 26 to Bopha and father Jamran.
Jamran and Bopha were part of Asia's illegal culinary and medicinal trade, which has pushed the sun bear, also known as the honey bear, towards the edge of extinction. The sun bear, the world's smallest bear, is reputed to have great healing powers and is considered a delicacy in some parts of Asia.
A bowl of bear-paw soup in Cambodia can reportedly cost up to $1290, and dried bear gall can sell for 18 times the price of gold. The sun bears, named after the U-shaped golden patch of fur on their chests, are milked for their gall bladder bile while they are still alive.
West Australian Environment Minister David Templeman said the birth of Maly, the Cambodian word for blossom, was an important achievement.
"Maly is particularly special because of the remarkable survival story of her parents, six-year-old Bopha and eight-year-old Jamran, who were rescued from poachers," he said.
"Bopha and Jamran were taken illegally from the wild when they were cubs, and were in a terrible condition when they arrived at the Free The Bears Fund sanctuary near Phnom Penh in Cambodia."
The sanctuary nursed the bears back to health before they were sent to Perth Zoo.
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: The former foreign minister of the now-defunct Khmer Rouge movement plans to appeal to Cambodia's genocide tribunal for release from his pretrial detention, a court spokesman said Sunday.
The United Nations-assisted tribunal has charged Ieng Sary, 82, with crimes against humanity and war crimes. He will appear on Monday to press for his release, tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said.
Ieng Sary is one of five defendants being held by the tribunal, which plans to begin its first trial later this year. His wife, 76-year-old Ieng Thirith, who served as the Khmer Rouge's social affairs minister, is also being held on charges of crimes against humanity.
The tribunal, jointly run by Cambodian and international personnel, is attempting to establish accountability for atrocities committed by the communist group when it ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979.
The group's radical policies resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people from starvation, disease, overwork and execution.
In their detention order in November, the investigating judges said Ieng Sary is being prosecuted for supporting Khmer Rouge policies that were "characterized by murder, extermination, imprisonment, persecution on political grounds and other inhuman acts such as forcible transfers of the population, enslavement and forced labor."
Ieng Sary has dismissed the charges as "unacceptable" and demanded evidence to support them, according to a copy of his detention order.
Ang Udom, Ieng Sary's lawyer, said he planned to challenge earlier assertions by the judges that his client would be a flight risk and a threat to witnesses if released.
"My client is too old. He cannot escape from Cambodia," Ang Udom said. "If he wanted, he could have done so long before his arrest."
Ieng Sary and his wife belonged to the inner circle of the Khmer Rouge and were in-laws of the movement's late leader, Pol Pot, who was married to Khieu Ponnary, Ieng Thirith's sister. Ieng Thirith took her husband's surname after they got married.
In 1996, Ieng Sary received a royal pardon from former King Norodom Sihanouk as a reward for breaking away from Pol Pot and leading his followers to join the government. The mutiny foreshadowed the Khmer Rouge's collapse three years later in 1999.
But the pardon had no bearing on the Cambodia-U.N. tribunal pact. Similar appeals by other defendants have failed.
The three other suspects in custody awaiting trial are Khieu Samphan, the former head of state, Nuon Chea, the former chief ideologist, and Kaing Guek Eav — also known as Duch — who headed the Khmer Rouge's S-21 torture center.
The tribunal has said it plans to start Duch's trial in September.
Steven Bushel, Sha Hihan and Victor Chhan were arrested at midnight Friday in a hotel room where they were discovered with 450 grammes of crystal amphetamines known as 'ice' and 300 grammes of a white powder used to produce the drug, anti-drug police investigator Chea Leng told reporters.
'We have monitored them for almost three months and we knew that they were trying to smuggle the drug out of Cambodia,' he said.
Police were still trying to learn where the suspects were smuggling the drugs, he said.
The three men were being held at the Interior Ministry's anti-drug unit to await trial, he added.
Ice can be produced in rudimentary laboratories from a range of chemicals and resembles clear, chunky crystals that can be smoked, snorted or injected.
Although drug arrests have risen, Cambodia is becoming an increasingly popular trafficking point for methamphetamines and heroin, particularly since neighbouring Thailand toughened its stance on illegal drugs in 2002. -- AFP
PHNOM PENH (AFP) — Hydropower is held up as the beacon of hope for millions of electricity-starved Cambodians, with ten planned hydro-dams set to power up their homes for the first time.
But flicking the switch comes at a price as critics say the controversial deals made with mostly Chinese companies to build the dams will create further hardship for Cambodia's poor and ruin the environment.
For window-maker Dorn Seanghor, however, the prospect of working without being plunged into darkness is appealing. In the midst of Cambodia's building boom his business should be thriving, but he is constantly frustrated.
"There's usually a blackout for six to eight hours almost every day -- one time in the morning and again in the evening," he said at his shop in the capital, Phnom Penh.
"It disturbs my business. I use a generator when the power is cut, but the price of gasoline is very high now."
Still, Dorn Seanghor is one of the luckier ones. Four-fifths of Cambodians do not have access to any electricity.
Ten dams are set to begin churning between 2010 and 2019, and once they are all operational the government says they will generate 2,045 megawatts of power, serving all Cambodia's provinces.
Government officials say six of the dams will be funded by Chinese companies, but the US-based International Rivers Network warned in a January report that these Chinese investments could threaten some of Cambodia's most precious eco-systems.
"Poorly conceived hydropower development could irreparably damage (natural) resources," the report warned.
Groups have been particularly concerned about the looming affects of Kamchay Dam, under construction by Sinohydro Corporation in Bokor National Park and expected to flood 2,000 hectares (4,942 acres) of protected forest.
And now environmental groups say two more projects agreed in mid-June at a cost of more than one billion dollars -- Stung Tatay by China National Heavy Machinery Corporation and Russey Chrum Krom by Michelle Corporation -- have not been properly scrutinised.
Both will be located in the country's southwestern Cardamom Protected Forest, and about 1,600 hectares (3,953 acres) of woodland would have to be flooded or cleared to make way for the dams, the government has said.
This could destroy key animal habitats and upset the delicate eco-system.
"Cardamom is the last hot spot of conservation in Indochina," said Sam Chanthy, an environmental officer with advocacy group Forum on Cambodia.
Qian Hai, third secretary of the Chinese embassy in Phnom Penh, denied his country's companies would damage the environment.
"We just help Cambodia. All these projects are approved by the parliament and the government," he said.
Ith Praing, Cambodia's energy secretary, insisted the government conducted careful environmental studies for all the dams.
"Outsiders always raise environmental issues, but we need electricity. We must develop our country. We must use our resources rather than buying oil," he said.
Cambodia has begun to climb back from decades of civil unrest to emerge as one of the region's fastest-growing economies.
Economic growth has averaged 11 percent over the past three years, although 30 percent of the 14 million people still earn less than a dollar per day.
The government fears rocketing energy prices will scare away foreign direct investment.
"Every sector needs electric power. When we have electricity at a reasonable price, development will come along," said Ith Praing, adding the government forecasts that by 2030, 70 percent of Cambodian families will have electricity.
Opposition member of parliament Son Chhay, however, said the debate is not simply a case of economic development versus the environment.
Poor people could be forced from their land to make way for the mega-projects, crops could be destroyed, while the environment the rural poor depend upon may be wiped out, he told AFP.
"The government just closes its eyes and lets Chinese companies do things that will cause a lot of problems in the future," Son Chhay said.
"It will not resolve poverty in Cambodia. Cambodia will lose a lot without taking into consideration the environmental consequences."
Sunday, 29 June 2008
Despite concerns about a political backlash similar to the ransacking of the Thai Embassy in 2003, the Cambodian public and media are reacting calmly to the raging Thailand controversy over Preah Vihear temple.
Read more on the Preah Vihear issue in Sunday Perspective - Click here)
"Cambodia has the right to seek a World Heritage status for Preah Vihear temple, and Thai people also have the right to protest against it," said Mr Sou Chamroeun, deputy director of Bayon television station in Phnom Penh .
"The Cambodian government and its people understand the issues raised by Thai politicians and they believe bilateral relations will not be harmed," Mr Sou said in a telephone interview with Perspective last Thursday.
The interview was conducted at the same time as the no-confidence debate in the Thai parliament, where the opposition Democrat party accused Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama of acting beyond his authority by signing a joint communique with Cambodia to have the ancient temple listed as a World Heritage site.
"The World Court has ruled that the temple belongs to Cambodia and everyone must respect its ruling," said Mr Sou, who is also a deputy chairman of the Cambodian Writers Association.
He dismissed fears about adverse reactions against the Thai people and businessmen living in Cambodia. "It is unlikely that there will be a repeat of the 2003 events," he said.
In January 2003, a Cambodian newspaper article falsely alleged that a Thai actress claimed that Angkor Wat belonged to Thailand. Other Cambodian print and radio media picked up the report and furthered the nationalistic sentiment which resulted in riots in Phnom Penh on January 29. The Thai Embassy was burned and properties of Thai businesses were vandalised.
Mr Sou's views are shared by Mr Khieu Kanharith, the minister of information of Cambodia, who said any problems concerning the temple's boundaries should be settled by the joint Thai-Cambodian committee, which holds regular meetings.
In his opinion, both Thailand and Cambodia will benefit from tourism and related businesses if Preah Vihear temple is listed as a World Heritage Site. In fact, he noted, Thailand would gain more than Cambodia because most of the tourists would have to pass through Thailand in order to visit the ancient temple.
During the censure debate, the Democrats insisted the Thai government's support for Cambodia's unilateral listing of Preah Vihear would remove Thailand's right to have ownership of the temple reviewed. Democrat party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said the Cambodian map that Foreign Minister Noppadon had acknowledged could put Thailand at a disadvantage in talks to settle the borderline with Cambodia .
The Thai media have demanded to know why a number of Cambodians have moved into a disputed area near the temple. If these Cambodians stay there permanently, it might cause Thailand to lose part of the area in dispute.
On this issue, Mr Hourt Song Hak, a reporter for the Cambodian daily Koh Santipap, agreed that the Cambodian settlers must be moved out of the area. Other than that, it is the Cambodian government's right to seek the listing of Preah Vihear, which belongs to Cambodia, as a World Heritage Site, he told Perspective.
Interestingly, the Cambodian reactions to the controversy are typically in stark contrast to the nationalistic mood of Thai politicians, media and academics.
Thai historian Thepmontri Limpaphayom has suggested that if the Cambodian request is put on the agenda of the World Heritage Committee in Quebec early next month, Thailand's World Heritage Committee should resign to pressure other member states of the World Heritage Committee to postpone considering the issue.
Meanwhile, Supreme Commander Gen Boonsang Niampradit said the Royal Thai Air Force had already put its transport planes on standby in case it was necessary to evacuate Thais from Cambodia if the issue gets out of hand.
During the height of violence in Phnom Penh on Jan 29, 2003 - when rioters attacked the Thai Embassy and the premises of Thai-owned businesses, including Shin Corp, then owned by the family of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra - the Thai government sent military aircraft to Phnom Penh to evacuate Thai nationals, while angry Thai protesters demonstrated outside the Cambodian Embassy in Bangkok.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen attributed the government's failure to prevent the attacks to incompetence, and noted that the riots were stirred up by extremists. The then chairman of the National Assembly, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, claimed that opposition leader Sam Rainsy had directed the attacks. Rainsy, instead, said he had tried to prevent the violence.
By Chea Makara
Radio Free Asia
Translated from Khmer by Khmerization
Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong has confirmed that he had lodged a defamation and disinformation law suit against Mr. Sam Rainsy in the French court in relation to Mr. Sam Rainsy’s speech which alleged that Mr. Hor Namhong was the chief of the Boeng Trabek Prison during the Khmer Rouge regime.
Mr. Hor Namhong had confirmed this law suit in a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the morning of the 27th of June.
Mr Hor Namhong Said: “If we let the Khmer court judge this case, people will say that the Khmer court is biased. So we decided to go to the French court, and wait to see what the people will say about that?”
Mr Sam Rainsy was happy that this case has been brought to the French court which he considered to be more independent than the Cambodian court. He added that the court hearing will take place next year.
Mr Sam Rainsy said: “The French courts are independent, the French courts don’t listen to the dictators like the courts in Cambodia. I’m so happy that I have the opportunity to expose the truth, to show the evidence as well as to bring the witnesses to testify as to who played what role during the Khmer Rouge regime. I have waited for this opportunity for a long time. I’m very happy that I have an opportunity to challenge him in a French court. It is only in the Cambodian courts that we cannot win any case against any Cambodian government leaders.”
At the same time Mr. Hor Namhong has announced that he has withdrawn a law suit against Mr. Dam Sith, a Sam Rainsy Party MP candidate and an editor of the Moneaksekar Khmeer newspaper. Mr. Dam Sith was arrested on the 8th of June and was released a week later when PM Hun Sen intervened.
The international community was concerned that the law suits against Mr. Dam Sith and Mr. Sam Rainsy will affect the upcoming election which will be held on the 27th of July 2008.
By Bora Touch Esq. 29 June 2008
There are worrying signs of tension between Cambodia and Thailand over Preah Vihear temple. This could escalate into war. It is a hot issue in Thai politics and the dispute has arisen from misunderstanding of the International Court of Justice Judgment of June 1962 on the part of Thai successive governments, politicians, Thai academics with except of a few such as Dr. Charnvit Kasetsiri. The tensions have been exacerbated by incorrect and fraudulent statements made by Thai partisans.
A fraudulent statement was recently made by Thai Democrat MP Sirichok Sopha "The ICJ ruled only the temple was under Cambodia's sovereignty and Thailand obligated to hand the ruin temple to Cambodia, not soil under and surrounding the ruin": The Nation, 25 June 2008. This has been the Thai theme since July 1962. The Thai Foreign Affairs Statement of 25 March 2008 reinforces this theme.
More recently, a Thai Columnist Nophakhun Limsamarnphunnop writes "the issue of the surrounding areas, currently in Thailand's territory, would be complicated and the integrity of Preah Vihear complex would be compromised, given that a number of elements of the temple such as a giant reservoir and the Naga staircase are situated in Thai territory.": The Nation 28 June 2008.
I wish to raise two issues I hope will eradicate any misunderstanding among the Thais; There is nothing I can do with those who persist in knowingly making false statements:
1. Did the International Court of Justice ("ICJ") accept or rule as binding all Cambodian-Thai boundary maps (1907-1908) including the Annex 1 Map and the boundary line indicated on it ?
2. What is the size of the "disputed" land?
At the ICJ hearing on 20 March 1962, Cambodia asked the Court to rule on (5) Final Submissions (claims) for Cambodia:
1. "To adjudge and declare that the map of the Dangrek sector (Annex I to the Memorial of Cambodia) was drawn up and published in the name and on behalf of the Mixed Delimitation Commission set up by the Treaty of 13 February 1904, that it sets forth the decisions taken by the said Commission and that, by reason of that fact and also of the subsequent agreements and conduct of the Parties, it presents a treaty character;"
2. "To adjudge and declare that the frontier line between Cambodia and Thailand, in the disputed region in the neighborhood of the Temple of Preah Vihear, is that which is marked on the map of the Commission of Delimitation between Indo-China and Siam (Annex I to the Memorial of Cambodia);"
3. "To adjudge and declare that the Temple of Preah Vihear is situated in territory under the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Cambodia";
4. "To adjudge and declare that the Kingdom of Thailand is under an obligation to withdraw the detachments of armed forces it has stationed, since 1954, in Cambodian territory, in the ruins of the Temple of Preah Vihear";
5. "To adjudge and declare that the sculptures, stelae, fragments of monuments, sandstone model and ancient pottery which have been removed from the Temple by the Thai authorities since 1954 are to be returned to the Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia by the Government of Thailand.": ICJ Reports 1962, p. 11
In its reply at the Court hearing, (here I only repeated two of the relevant Thailand rebuttal submissions) Thailand objected to all 5 Submissions above as follows.
- The Annex I Map was not published in the name or on behalf of the Mixed Commission, but was prepared by the French section of the Mixed Commission alone, and published only in the name of the French section.
- No decision of the Mixed Commission was recorded about the boundary at Preah Vihear.
In the ICJ operative provisions of the judgment of 15 June 1962, the Court accepted Thai rebuttal Submissions 1 and partially 2. The Court found/ruled that:
1. "the Temple of Preah Vihear is situated in territory under the sovereignty of Cambodia;"[Cambodia's Submission 3]
2. "Thailand is under an obligation to withdraw any military or police forces, or other guards or keepers, stationed by her at the Temple, or in its vicinity on Cambodian territory"; [Cambodia's Submission 4]
3. "Thailand is under an obligation to restore to Cambodia any objects of the kind specified in Cambodia's fifth Submission which may, since the date of the occupation of the Temple by Thailand in 1954, have been removed from the Temple or the Temple area by the Thai authorities.": ICJ Reports 1962, p. 36, 37. [Cambodia's Submission 5]
Using this as a reason, following the ICJ ruling in July 1962, the Thai Cabinet dispatched a proces verbale to the United Nations in which, in essence, Thailand formally accepted the Court ruling and provided its "understanding" of the Court ruling and that is that, according to Thailand, the ICJ found that the Temple is located in Cambodian territory, but the Court rejected the Annex 1 Map and the border line indicated on it. Thailand unilaterally drew the new boundary line as it understood: (see Map "3", Courtesy Aide Memoire of the Royal Government of Cambodia 1962.)
That is an incorrect understanding of the ICJ judgment by the Thais and the facs are as follows:
In Cambodia's Submission 1 (and 2) Cambodia asked the Court to accept its very precisely wording contention/claim that Annex 1 Map was published on the authority of the Mixed Commission for Delimitation. The Court found that the Mixed Commission did not order or approve that the Maps be made. Because of the lack of necessary technical facilities, Siamese Government asked the French Government to make the boundary Maps, including the Map in question. Four French officials three of whom were members of the first Mixed Commission established under the 1904 Treaty, were appointed to prepare the Maps. The Court held that:
"What is certain is that the map must have had a basis of some sort, and the Court thinks there can be no reasonable doubt that it was based on the work of the surveying officers in the Dangrek sector. Being one of the series of maps of the frontier areas produced by French Government topographical experts in response to a request made by the Siamese authorities, printed and published by a Paris firm of repute, all of which was clear from the map itself, it was thus invested with an official standing; it had its own inherent technical authority; and its provenance was open and obvious. The Court must nevertheless conclude that, in its inception, and at the moment of its production, it had no binding character" : ICJ Report 1962, 21
But the lack of the Commission's authority to publish the Map was not important and it was not the relevant question. The Court held that:
"The real question … which is the essential one in this case, is whether the Parties did adopt the Annex I map, and the line indicated on it, as representing the outcome of the work of delimitation of the frontier in the region of Preah Vihear, thereby conferring on it a binding character.": ICJ Report 1962, 22. (emphasis added).
The Court found that this was exactly what Thailand (and Cambodia) had done; for instance, as the Court pointed out, the following facts supported that Thailand adopted the Maps:
- Siam's official wide circulation of the Map,
- Siam asked French for more Map copies,
- the silence of the Siamese members of the Mixed Commission, who saw the map
- the silence of the then governor Khukhan province (now Si Saket), who saw the Map.
The Parties thus accepted the map and the line on it. The Court held "the acceptance of the Annex I map by the parties caused the map to enter the treaty settlement  and to become an integral part of it [the 1904 Treaty]" . This process, according to the Court, did not involve a departure from, or violation of, the Treaty of 1904 because even if the map line diverged from the watershed line, the Map was nonetheless accepted by the parties.
The Court held, finally that " the indication of the line of the watershed in Article 1 of the 1904 Treaty was itself no more than an obvious and convenient way of describing a frontier line objectively, though in the general terms. There is, however, no reason to think that the Parties attached any special importance to the line of the watershed as such, as compared with the overriding importance, in the interests of finality, of adhering to the map line as eventually delimited and as accepted by them. The Court, therefore, feels bound, as a matter of treaty interpretation, to pronounce in favor of the line as mapped in the disputed area": ICJ Report 1962 p. 33 (emphasis added).
Further clarity of the issue (boundary line on the Map) is seen in the Separate Declaration of 2 majority member Judges, Judge Tanaka and Judge Morelli which states "The claim as it is formulated in Cambodia's Application is directed not to the return of the Temple as such, but rather to sovereignty over the portion of territory in which the Temple is situated": ICJ Reports 1962, p 38.
It is beyond dispute. The Annex 1 Map (and the boundary line indicated on it) was ruled by the Court as valid and binding. (ICJ Annex 1 Map, attached marked "4": ICJ Reports 1962)
Both Thailand and Cambodia had accepted the Annex 1 Map and were to accept it.
The size of the "disputed" land.
The attached Maps "A" and Map "B" shows the lines of Annex 1 Map and Thai line.
The "disputed" land where the temple is situated is more than 4.6 square kilometres larger than the Thailand has claimed:(see Thai internal working map attached "A", the blue writings are my additions)
From the cliff or the Temple's main sanctuary to the stone staircase (the main reservoir) is about 650m: (see Preah Vihear Temple Plan attached, courtesy Korat Magazine 2007).
Map marked Map "B" is an internal Thai working paper. A square on the Map, as correctly pointed by the Thai official, represents 2 square kilometres (2 tarang kilometr, red handwriting on top, right hand side of Map "B") on the Map. If you look at the square which covers temple, you will see that from the temple's stone staircase and the grand reservoir to the boundary line shows at least 2.6 km. (Note: the writings on the French map (1:200,000 scale) in blue and pink are my additions)
Thus the road (the road head) built by Thailand and the Thai Police checkpoint at the road head are therefore at least 2.6 km inside Cambodia.
Bora Touch Esq--
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by Nophakhun Limsamarnphunnop
Cambodia should consider Joint inscription of Preah Vihear site
Unesco's World Heritage Committee is due to meet next week in Canada to consider Cambodia's proposal for inscription of the ancient Preah Vihear temple on the World Heritage list.
I believe that Unesco will not approve the Cambodian bid at this stage, despite the Thai Cabinet's recent endorsement of a joint communique between the two countries on this matter.
According to this joint communique - signed by Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama and Cambodian Deputy Premier Sok An on June 18 - both countries agreed to five major points that were based on the results of a bilateral meeting on May 22.
First, Thailand explicitly supports the inscription, based on a map prepared by Cambodia, at the upcoming 32nd session of the World Heritage Committee in Canada.
Second, Cambodia accepts the inscription without - at this stage - buffer zones on the northern and western areas of Preah Vihear temple.
Third, the map presented by Cambodia shall supersede the other maps and graphic references.
Fourth, pending the work of the Joint Commission for Land Boundary concerning western and northern areas of the temple, the two countries agree to prepare jointly the management plan of these areas for consideration by Unesco in 2010.
Fifth, the inscription of Preah Vihear shall be without prejudice to the rights of Thailand and Cambodia on demarcation works of the two countries.
All these points were debated fiercely in the Thai Parliament on June 22 and June 23, with opposition MPs accusing the government of conceding sovereignty to Cambodia.
In my opinion, Thailand's national interest was compromised at least as far as the negotiations over the temple were concerned.
As indicated by former foreign minister Nit Pibulsongkarm, the country's interest would be best protected if the foreign ministry insisted on a joint nomination together with Cambodia for Preah Vihear's inscription as a World Heritage site.
Second, Thailand should make it clear to Cambodia that it would oppose any unilateral attempt for Prear Vihear's inscription.
In the spirit of the founding of Unesco, it is highly unlikely that the UN body will go ahead with the inscription of the site should there be any opposition from a neighbouring country.
In the case of Preah Vihear, built around 1,100BC, Thailand's national interest would be compromised because the endorsement of Cambodia's single-country nomination would serve as a basis that bars any future attempt by Thailand to contest its sovereignty over the temple, which is situated just next to its border.
More importantly, the issue of the surrounding areas, currently in Thailand's territory, would be complicated and the integrity of Preah Vihear complex would be compromised, given that a number of elements of the temple such as a giant reservoir and the Naga staircase are situated in Thai territory.
Again, it would be best for both countries to jointly nominate the temple as the World Heritage site so as to avoid these territorial and management issues.
It would also be considered reasonable if the temple and its peripheral areas are turned into a joint-development area co-owned by Cambodia and Thailand.
Any monetary or other benefits derived from this joint effort could then be shared between the two nations in a fashion similar to the Joint Development Area between Thailand and Malaysia, covering oil and gas resources in the countries' territorial waters.
A Cambodian lawyer has urged the United States to extract a written statement from chief terrorist suspect Riduan Isamuddin, who is better known as Hambali, which could vindicate his clients, two Thai Muslims convicted of colluding with Hambali in plotting terrorist attacks.
Cambodia's Supreme Court in March upheld a term of life imprisonment imposed on two Thai Muslims and a Cambodian Muslim convicted of collaborating with Hambali in plotting a terrorist attack against foreign embassies in Phnom Penh between 2002 and 2003.
The two convicted Thais are religious teachers Abdul Azi Haji Chiming and Muhammad Yalaludin Mading.
Five Islamic groups in Thailand are discussing what they can do to help the men. They may ask to have the men serve their remaining prison terms in Thailand, or seek a royal pardon.
However Kao Sopha, the lawyer representing the men, insisted such an avenue would only amount to an admission of the prisoners' guilt.
His clients did not commit any crime, he said in Bangkok yesterday. But he said he was open to the possibility of the men serving their sentences in Thailand in a prisoner exchange programme.
The 37-year-old lawyer is in Thailand to visit the convicts' families and talk to support groups in Bangkok and Yala.
He said the US should ask Hambali to make a statement which would declare once and for all if his clients were guilty.
Hambali was a key member of the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) extremist network which authorities believe was responsible for numerous attacks, including the 2002 Bali bombings which killed 202 people. Hambali spent months in Cambodia before being captured in Thailand in 2003.
Khunying Amporn Meesuk, of the National Human Rights Commission, said the government has suggested to Cambodia that the prisoner exchange programme be implemented, but Phnom Penh has not responded.
Meanwhile in Pattani, a kamnan (district chief) was shot dead by gunmen on his way home in Muang district yesterday.
The victim, Dueramae Jehteh, 64, was a kamnan in tambon Klong Maning.
Police said Dueramae left a teashop and headed home when four gunmen on two motorcycles approached and opened fire on him.
The injunction overturns a cabinet resolution endorsing a new map of the Preah Vihear temple site which angered Thai nationalists.
Anti-government protesters believe Thailand stands to lose territory in the agreement.
Cambodia this week closed the temple after more than 100 Thais marched to the compound to protest over the deal.
Cambodia planned to ask the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting in Canada next month to have the site listed to attract more tourists.
Cambodia prepared a 47-page glossy document for the World Heritage Committee, detailing how the Thai government had been providing ''active support'' to assist in its application to sponsor the temple on the World Heritage List.
This propaganda material looks very convincing because it chronicles step by step how the present Thai leaders gave such assistance.
However, since the outbreak of protests in Thailand the Foreign Ministry has told Cambodia the maps used in the nomination proceedings must not contrast with the map redrawn in 1963 under the direction of the cabinet of Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat. This map showed the buildings in the Preah Vihear complex under Cambodian sovereignty, but not all of the temple complex. For example, the pond and the approach are shown as belonging to Thailand. Cambodia originally included these areas in its application as part of a ''buffer zone'', but now has apparently given up trying to exert any control over them.
Little mention of this has been made in the Cambodian media so far. The Voice of America quoted Sean Pengse, director of the Paris-based Cambodia Border Committee, as saying that the International Court has decided that the temple and areas surrounding it belonged to Cambodia, and excluding the surrounding areas would be costly for Cambodia in terms of its integrity.
Criticism will certainly be surging in the weeks to come, given that the general election in Cambodia is counting down. Negative nationalism has unfortunately been fanned, of course in favour of the ruling government of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
A ceremony was held at Wat Phnom at which a message was read from King Sihanouk in support of the International Court's ruling on Preah Vihear at the 46th anniversary of the ruling on June 15.
There is no doubt strongman Hun Sen would like to see Preah Vihear listed as a World Heritage site along with his likely triumph in the coming election.
He inaugurated last month a project to build a 118-kilometre road linking provincial capital T'beng Meanchey with the temple, to be completed within 45 months. The road, partially funded by the Chinese, would also link the Angkor Wat World Heritage Site in Siem Reap province through Kampong Thom province. This would mean less dependence on the traditional entry point to the temple from Si Sa Ket province in Thailand.
Meanwhile, an Indian company has unveiled a multimillion-dollar proposal to build an airport serving Preah Vihear, while a Japanese firm reportedly wants to construct a cable car route up the steep Cambodian side.
What's more, ousted Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra reportedly plans a casino investment not very far from the future World Heritage Site.
Despite all the moves to capitalise on the heightened tourist appeal of Preah Vihear, Thai officials are orchestrated in affirming that Cambodia has compromised, which should be considered a mini-triumph for Thailand.
''For its part, the Kingdom of Cambodia, in a spirit of goodwill and conciliation, accepted to inscribe the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List, at this stage, without a buffer zone on the north and west of the Temple,'' says an official Cambodian document. This implies that Cambodia has agreed to Thailand's claims to ownership of parts of the complex and access route.
Sending the Wrong Signal
Many are wondering why the Samak government was so keen to endorse Cambodia's move on Preah Vihear in the absence of an amicable agreement on the territorial dispute. Why not push for a joint application? The endorsement is sending a signal that Thailand will never try to reclaim Preah Vihear.
Former Thai ambassador Sompong Sucharitkul has said this seems a truly unforgivable diplomatic blunder. He is among the many that feel the integrity and authenticity of the site can only be maintained through joint listing and joint management.
Pisit Charoenwongs, a renowned Thai scholar and director of the SEMEAO Regional Centre for Archaeology and Fine Arts, said at a recent seminar organised by the Senate Committee on Religion, Ethics, and Culture that Thailand has become a villain in the eyes of the international community because of the dispute with Cambodia .
He added that Thailand needs to seek global partners, and explain in a straightforward and clear manner that opponents of Cambodia's unitary application are behaving reasonably, and ultimately for the sake of preservation of the Preah Vihear temple.
''The Thai delegation needs to argue with strong evidence and in a comprehensive and systematic manner that it would set a bad precedent if only the temple and not the functional vicinity of the whole property is listed,'' said the senior Southeast Asian arts expert.
The ball will therefore lie in the court of WHC members Australia, Bahrain, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, South Korea, Madagascar, Mauritius, Morocco, Nigeria, Peru, Spain, Sweden, Tunisia and the US, whose membership in the WHC will voluntarily end by the end of next year.
Sawitree Sunwansathit, a former senior Education Ministry official and adviser to the Culture Ministry, had a sour note for the Thai public. She said many of the members have successfully lobbied to throw their support for Cambodia, and that no matter how well or vehemently argued, the Thai points may have little weight in the committee's consideration.
Ms Sawitree also said application for a parallel listing for Thailand at the Quebec meeting will not also be possible. As the name implies, this would be somewhat less cooperative than a joint listing.
Tharapong Srisuchat, head of the Fine Arts Department's Archaeological Bureau, said it might take some 3-5 years before Thailand could come up with its own proposal.
Mr Pisit, however, believed the World Heritage Committee is required to understand that the wholeness of the sacred temple needs to be preserved when considering the merit of Cambodia's application _ particularly to little details such as how small or large the buffer zone for the site would be.
If the buffer zone is too large, it will penetrate into Thailand, and if the space is not adequately allotted, it will cause an eyesore, as in Ayudhaya. So, said the scholar, Thailand is justified and deserving of sympathy in a request that the government have more time to study the more appropriate joint listing and joint management of the site.
Ms Sawitree added that visitors would be treated to a more graceful and sacred atmosphere with an entrance from Thailand, as opposed to the casino-dotted landscape on the Cambodian side.
She said it should be explained to the committee that it is important to understand the real function of this temple, which in ancient times was serving the indigenous community on the eastern side (now Thailand) and not on the west, as is distortedly reported in Cambodian documents.
Pongpol Adireksarn, newly-appointed head of the Thai delegation to the WHC, believes a joint listing is the best option, but Thailand might also seek a parallel listing, as is the case of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park which straddles the US-Canadian border.
But the case of Zimbabwe and Zambia on the joint management of the Victoria Falls, which was listed a World Heritage Site in 1989, might be a hard lesson. The two nations did not sign a joint management plan until 2007.
Indonesia and Malaysia filed separately for nomination of Borneo as a World Heritage Site in February and June 2004, respectively. The Committee has yet to endorse their applications.
The academics believe that now Thailand should work on the document already submitted by the Fine Arts Department to Unesco recommending certain areas and stupas be listed along with the Preah Vihear temple to complete the cultural landscape.
The important places on the Thai side include linga sculpture that represent a site to pay homage prior to entering the higher and more sacred ground, as well as Sa Trao swamp, which had an irrigation function for the indigenous community, as well as the Pha Mo E-Daeng archeological site in the northeastern part of the temple complex.