A Change of Guard

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Sunday, 8 August 2010

Thailand Will Not Revoke Border MoU With Cambodia

Preah Vihear aerial view.

By Jamaluddin Muhammad
Aug 8 (Bernama)

Thailand has no intention of revoking the border Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Cambodia inked in 2000 as it is beneficial to Thailand, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Sunday.

He said under the MoU, Cambodia and Thailand need to consult each other if they want to carry out any activities in the disputed 4.6 sq km territory claimed by both countries near the Preah Vihear Temple.

"The MoU will not accept the map for the temple management plan submitted by Cambodia to the Unesco World Heritage Committee because it included part of the disputed territory," he said.

The MoU did not allow Cambodians to occupy the area, he said when leading the four-member government team in a live telecast three-hour debate with four members of the Thailand Patriot Network.

The debate was held after the network's peaceful demonstration in the capital yesterday demanding the Thai government to cancel the MoU as they feared it would cause Thailand to lose the disputed area.

The group claimed that Thailand was at a disadvantage because the MoU was the source of the problem as it gave Cambodians a chance to trespass and settle in the disputed area.

Abhisit said the MoU did not put Thailand at a disadvantage, instead it was beneficial to the country.

The 11th century Hindu temple is located in the Cambodian territory as ruled by the International Court of Justice in 1962 and Unesco listed it as a world heritage site in 2008.

This led to a strained relationship as both countries claimed the disputed area.

The issue heated up again last week when Cambodia submitted the management plan for the temple at the Unesco World Heritage Committee meeting in Brazil.

Thailand protested as the plan included part of the disputed territory and the meeting postponed its decision on the management plan to next year's meeting in Bahrain.

The group yesterday rallied at the Government House where the Prime Minister's Office is located before moving to the Army Region 1 headquarters and later to the Thai-Japanese Stadium.

The group is led by leaders of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) also known as yellow shirts -- the group that seized the Government House in August 2008 and two airports in the city three months later.

Veera Somkwamkid led the group's debate team while the government side included Natural Resource and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti. The group distanced itself from the yellow shirts although it was led by yellow shirts' leaders.

Its rival, the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), known as the red shirts, blamed the government for practicing double-standard for allowing such demonstrations to take place while Bangkok was still under state of Emergency which prohibits the assembly of more than five people.

Red shirts leaders also claimed that government was practicing double standards as the yellow shirts' leaders had yet to be charged for terrorism for the offences they committed two years ago following the seizure of the Government House and two airports.

Most of the red shirts leaders are in detention now facing possible terrorism charges following the unrest in the capital which ended May 19 and left 91 people dead and 1,800 injured.

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