Monday, 3.3.2008: Thailand Conducts Preah Vihear Temple Campaign Before Thai Premier’s Visit to Cambodia

Posted on 4 March 2008. Filed under: Week 550 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 550

“Phnom Penh: When Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej arrived in Cambodia on Monday of 3 March 2008, the issue of Preah Vihear Temple seemed to come along with him to discuss it with Samdech Dechor Hun Sen, the Prime Minister of Cambodia.

“Even though Thailand officially declared that it supports Cambodia’s efforts to list Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO], Thailand, in fact, does not have the willingness to do so, as we have looked into the news events released by Thai newspapers prior to the official visit of Mr. Samak Sundaravej to Cambodia.

[In view of the importance of good mutual understanding, we refer in this issue also to some documents of international organizations, and others from the Thai side, so that our readers can get a broader picture.]

“The Thai campaign against listing Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site is seen through monitoring of reports by large Thai newspapers prior to Mr. Samak Sundaravej’s official visit to Cambodia, after he became Prime Minister of Thailand. For a period of one month, starting from early January to late February, major Thai English language newspapers, including The Nation and the Bangkok Post, have published at least four sensitive articles concerning listing Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site. To conclude, the publications of the newspapers reflectis the stance of Thailand, which uses the border issue to obstruct the process of putting Preah Vihear Temple on the World Heritage Site list of UNESCO.

“The Bangkok Post, on 26 February 2008, reported that, ‘Mr. Samak told General Anupong Paojinda and General Boonsrang Niempradit on Monday that his government still has its firm position to expect to see the demarcation of the border in advance.’ As for an issue released one week ago – on 19 February 2008 – the English language Bangkok Post said, “A shared cultural heritage is again at the center of a tug of war.” According to the analysis, in seven other articles of The Nation and the Bangkok Post, Thailand has the intention to have the border issue solved first, by giving the reason that Thailand is losing land, and its sovereignty is violated, for deciding to wait with listing Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site of UNESCO.

“But as for Cambodia, the listing of Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site is considered not to be a border issue. Mr. Hor Namhong, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, was quoted by The Nation on 22 February as saying that the Phnom Penh government was ready to declare that the process of listing Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site would not affect the border demarcation [which has still to be negotiated later], so as to put [later] markers on the Cambodian-Thai border.

“Under the pressure of the Thai military, it was expected that Mr. Samak would take up the issue of Preah Vihear Temple to talk with Cambodian leaders [actually, the Thai side had publicly declared that Preah Vihear is not on their agenda, though they expected it would be raised by the Cambodian side], even though his visit is paid in a diplomatic manner, in order to introduce himself to other South-East Asian leaders, as he has recently became prime minister. He has his reasons to talk about this issue, in order to make the Thai military, which had ousted Thaksin Shinawatra from the position of prime minister through a military coup d’état, happy and hopeful of reducing tensions in Thailand’s internal politics. But the Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama was quoted by the Bangkok Post as saying that the issue [of the Cambodian-Thai border demarcation in the Preah Vihear area] has still to be negotiated, and it will be solved through diplomatic channels when he meets with Mr. Sok An, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in Charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers, in Bangkok [actually, the Bangkok Post of 22 February quoted Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama as saying the issue would be discussed between Mr. Var Kim Hong, the head of the Cambodian Border Committee, and the Thai Foreign Ministry’s Legal Affairs Department chief, Mr. Weerachai Pladisai]

“It is known that Mr. Sok An is the leader of the Cambodian mission to list Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site. But according to the plan of the two-day visit on 3-4 March, Mr. Samak does not have a meeting with Mr. Sok An in person in his program, even though he meets with Samdech Dechor Hun Sen, and King Norodom Sihamoni grants him an audience. In preparation, before visiting Cambodia, Mr. Samak had asked the Thai military to give him detailed information about Preah Vihear.

“Is Thailand successful in opposing the listing of Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee?

“According to the Decision: 31 COM 8B.24 of the above committee, the committee approved that the Preah Vihear Temple will be officially listed as a World Heritage Site at the 32nd session in 2008. But the Thai campaign against listing Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site can cause trouble, and can make a number of countries, which receive economic benefits from Thailand, hesitate in supporting Cambodia, as they are afraid of disappointing their economic partner, namely Thailand.

“Analysts said that the border issue and listing Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site are two totally different problems which demand separate solutions. Therefore, the border issue should be solved together by the border committees of both countries on the basis of friendship. The border issue is not the responsibility of UNESCO, which is a purely cultural organization. If UNESCO makes any decision in relation to the border issue, it can make people misunderstand that the organization has a political rather than cultural character, unlike what is stated in its charter. Moreover, it is contrary or not respectful of the decision of the International Court of Justice. It should be remembered that the International Court of Justice in The Hague decided, on 15 March 1962, with the support of a 9-to-5 vote, that the Preah Vihear Temple is within the sovereignty of Cambodia. Therefore, Thailand has the obligation to withdraw troops, police, or guards or sentries who are stationed at Preah Vihear Temple or the nearby regions on the [not yet demarcated] Cambodian soil.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol. 16, #4530, 2-3.3.2008


[We make the full text of the relevant UNESCO decision avaliable at the end of this article for the reference of our readers – it shows in detail the different steps mutually agreed upon by the delegations of both countries, including the need of certain measures of preservation by international cooperation, for which Thailand had offered its support. – We do not have information about the Progress Report, which Cambodia had to present to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2008.]


UNITED NATIONS EDUCATIONAL, SCIENTIFIC AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATION, CONVENTION CONCERNING THE PROTECTION OF THE WORLD CULTURAL AND NATURAL HERITAGE

WORLD HERITAGE COMMITTEE

Thirty-first session, Christchurch, New Zealand

DECISIONS ADOPTED: – full text of 207 pages

Here only pages 153 and 154, related to Preah Vihear:

Decision: 31 COM 8B.24 of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, taken at Christchurch, New Zealand
23 June – 2 July 2007

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Documents WHC-07/31.COM/8B and WHC-07/31.COM/INF.8B.1,
  2. Having taken note of the following statement by the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee which has been agreed to by the Delegation of Cambodia and the Delegationof Thailand:The State Party of Cambodia and the State Party of Thailand are in full agreement that the Sacred Site of the Temple of Preah Vihear has Outstanding Universal Value and must be inscribed on the World Heritage List as soon as possible. Accordingly, Cambodia and Thailand agree that Cambodia will propose the site for formal inscription on the World Heritage List at the 32nd session of the World Heritage Committee in 2008 with the active support of Thailand.They also agree that the site is in need of urgent attention and requires international financial and technical assistance and close cooperation between them.They further agree that it is essential to strengthen conservation and management at the site including by the development of an appropriate management plan, as required under paragraph 108 of the Operational Guidelines, that will ensure the future protection of this property.They understand, following consultation with the World Heritage Centre, that financial and technical assistance for the development of a management plan will be available through the World Heritage Centre’s International Assistance programme.
  3. Recognizes that the Sacred Site of the Temple of Preah Vihear is of great international significance and has Outstanding Universal Value on the basis of criteria
    (i), (ii) and (iv), agrees in principle that it should be inscribed on the World Heritage List and notes that the process for inscription is in progress;
  4. Requests the State Party of Cambodia to strengthen conservation and management at the site by making progress in developing an appropriate management plan, which progress will enable its formal inscription by the Committee at its 32nd session in 2008;
  5. Further requests the State Party of Cambodia to submit a progress report to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2008.

The following is a reference to the Judgement of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, 15 June 1962, relating to the soverignty of Cambodia over the Preah Vihear Temple – full text of 69 pages. The preface to the judgment – following here – shows, however, that the court was aware of the “Uncertain character of resulting delimitation in disputed area” – it is not know to us which of the necessary measures have been, or have not been, taken in the meantime since 1962.

Territorial sovereignty.-Title deriving from treaty.-Treaty clauses establishing frontier along watershed line as delimited by Mixed Commission of Parties.-Uncertain character of resulting delimitation in disputed area.-Eventual production by experts of one Party, at the request of the other, of a map.-Non-binding character of map at moment of its production.-Subsequent acceptance by conduct of map and frontier line by other Party.-Legal effect of silence as implying consent.-Alleged non-correspondence of map line with true watershed 1ine.-Acceptance of risk of errors.-Subsequent conduct confirming original acceptance and precluding a denial of it.-Effect of subsequent treaties confirming existing frontiers and as evidence of Parties’ desire for frontier stability and finality.-InterPretation of treaty settlement considered as a whole, including map.

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 3 March 2008


Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #55, 3.3.2008

  • Keo Remy [vice-president of Human Rights Party]: No Reason for Cambodia to Negotiate with Siam [Thailand] over the Preah Vihear Temple
  • Ken Sara [president of Student Movement for Democracy] and Chea Mony [leader of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia] Plan to Hold a Large Demonstration and Strike to Demand the Reduction of Prices of Gasoline and Other Goods, and to Demand an Increase of Salaries [for garment workers and public servants]


Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1582, 2-3.3.2008

  • Angkor Wat Faces Being Damaged Due to Development [environmental destruction]


Karpear Cheat [“National Defense], Vol.1, #1, 29.2-1.3.2008

  • Having The Hague Court Verdict, Cambodia Should Not Discuss Anything with Thailand! [over Preah Vihear Temple]


Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #120, 3.3.2008

  • US Ambassador: Cambodia Should Manage Oil Output Properly and Transparently


Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3402, 3.3.2008

  • Appointment of Advisors Is to Get Money to Serve the [Cambodian People’s] Party


Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4530, 2-3.3.2008

  • Thai Conducts Preah Vihear Temple Campaign Before Thai Premier’s Visit to Cambodia
  • Cambodia and Vietnam Late in Border Demarcation [because Cambodia has only two technical groups and Vietnam cannot produce border marks on time]
  • Clearing Forests Countrywide because of Increasing Land Prices
  • [A white Toyota] Lexus Car with a Military License Plate Hit a Moto Taxi Driver and Killed Him, Then Escaped [29 February – Daun Penh, Phnom Penh]


Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3261, 2-3.3.2008

  • European Community to Send 150-200 Election Observers [to Cambodia]

Have a look at last week’s editorial

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