Borders Link and Borders Separate – Sunday, 4.7.2010

Posted on 7 July 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 671 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 671

The Mirror carries regularly reports about incidents considered to be border violations, but much more frequently information about smuggling. Some people are caught and sent to court; the border with Thailand has been beyond regular control, so that finally an attempt had to be made that even a large number of illegal border crossings had to be brought under control, as The Mirror had reported on 10 June 2010, from which we quote again:

Illegal border entries closed in crackdown

Between 30 and 40 illegal border crossings in Banteay Meanchey province have been closed in an attempt to curb the smuggling of pigs, gas, petrol, fruits and expired perishable foods from Thailand to Cambodia, provincial officials said Wednesday.

“We have closed more than 30 illegal border crossing points along the border with Thailand to stop smuggling, and this closure is forever,” Banteay Meanchey deputy governor Im Phoansophal said…

He declined to provide any figures supporting this claim, though he accused local businessmen of resorting to smuggling in order to evade taxes.

“Businessmen have always used these illegal crossing points to smuggle their goods. They prefer to do things this way because they don’t want to pay tax on items, and they think it will cost less to just bribe local officials,” he said.

Obviously, these 30 to 40 border crossings had been used regularly and formally – though illegally – for some time, before there was an effort made to put this chaotic situation to an end. This surely does not mean that there is no illegal border crossing going on any longer at the Cambodian-Thai border, which extends for about 800 kilometers, for long stretches through forested areas.

When a Thai newspaper published a report, saying that Thai anti-government activists, suspected of having been involved in the bombing of a building in Thailand during the recent violent confrontations in Bangkok, had entered Cambodia, Cambodian government officials quickly denied this and accused the Thai government and the Thai media of making false accusations against Cambodia.

The Phnom Penh Post reported on 29 and 30 June 2010:

In a statement issued Monday, the Press and Quick Reaction Unit at the Council of Ministers said there was no evidence the men had entered Cambodia. The statement also called on the Thai government to end what it described as a “malicious campaign to fault Cambodia…”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said Monday that the allegations were “stupid.”

“Cambodia completely denies this kind of provocative information,” he said…

In addition to arguing that there was no evidence that the two fugitives were in Cambodia, the Council of Ministers statement called on the Thai government to end its “malicious campaign to fault Cambodia,” and accused it of “fanning acts of provocation against the Kingdom of Cambodia.” …

But Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs,… also said the names of the two fugitives cited in the report on Monday – Warisaya and Kobchai – had not appeared on registration lists at the border.

“The border always registers people when they cross the border, and the two names mentioned as suspects were not on that list,” he said. “They raise incorrect information. When Thailand has problems, they blame Cambodia.”

“If Thailand denies that they have accused Cambodia, then they should make corrections in all their media that have published such false information,” he said.

“I think this is a play from the Thai government officials, who speak out without taking responsibility for their comments.”

These official and massive Cambodian denials – assuming that nobody could have crossed the border without having their names registered in an official border crossing list – were combined with accusations against the Thai government and media, requesting “they should make corrections in all their media that have published such false information.”

This war of words was accompanied by the forwarding of a document by the Spokesman and Deputy Director for Press Department of the Office of the Council of Ministers, the Press and Quick Reaction Unit – a document written by Pen Ngoeun, an Advisor to the Office of the Council of Ministers and member of the Advisory Board of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Office of the Council of Ministers, representing “only the personal opinion of the writer, and does not reflect under any shape and form the opinion of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit nor that of the Office of the Council of Ministers.” In spite of this disclaimer, it is interesting that this long document was widely published at this time and with this background, asking: WILL THAILAND’S ENMITY TOWARDS CAMBODIA END.

This long document is accusing that Thailand, since 150 years, has taken a negative attitude against Cambodia. “This writing is not a piece about history, but as far back as the eyes can see, the Kingdom of Thailand has kept its enmity towards Cambodia,” which is similar to “the current state of mind of the government of Abhisit Vijjajeva, with ‘former terrorist’ turned foreign minister Kasit Pyromya, and the malicious and machiavellic [deputy prime minister] Suthep Thaugsuban at his sides…” This negative attitude was also the cause which made Cambodia to entrust its destiny to French colonial rule. “Thailand always acts like a hungry mad dog that missed a good piece of meat and had never stopped dreaming about it, since.”

“Finally, Thailand has made official, its territorial ambition on Cambodian territories in 2007 in Christchurch, New Zealand during the 31st session of the World Heritage Committee by presenting for the first time to such an important international gathering a map dressed up unilaterally and secretly by Thailand and thus laying claim on an area of 4.6 km sq. inside the Cambodian territory near the Temple of Preah Vihear, as an objection of various uncoordinated, confusing, illegitimate, and nonsense motives to the inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear to the World Heritage List.

Would Thailand wake up from the bad dream of a hungry mad dog? It had to be decided by Thailand. It had nothing to do with Cambodia.”

It is appropriate to say that not only persons in positions of political leadership will have to find ways to help to establish good neighborly relations. This will also be necessary in Cambodia, not only by using a different type of language, but also by seeing some facts, not published in Cambodia and therefore hardly seen, and therefore also not considered in Cambodia.

What this Advisor to the Office of the Council of Ministers and member of the Advisory Board of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Office of the Council of Ministers calls “various uncoordinated, confusing, illegitimate, and nonsense motives to the inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear to the World Heritage List” related to the contested 4.6 square kilometers around the Temple of Preah Vihear, is described with quite different words in a document, based on a meeting at the headquarters of UNESCO in Paris, signed by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An on 18 June 2008, inscribing the Temple “without at this stage a buffer zone on the northern and western areas of the Temple” – “without prejudice to the rights of the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Kingdom of Thailand on the demarcation works of the Joint Commission for Land Boundary.” The related map, superseding the maps formerly presented in Cambodia’s nomination file, signed by the chairperson of the Border Committee of Cambodia Var Kim Hong at the same time, is here:

Cambodian map around Preah Vihear Temple

Cambodian map around Preah Vihear Temple

Joint Communique

The meeting was held in a spirit of friendship and cooperation.

During the meeting both sides agreed as follows:

  1. The Kingdom of Thailand supports the inscription, at the 32th session of the World Heritage Committee (Québec, Canada, July 2008), of the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List proposed by the Kingdom of Cambodia, the perimeter of which is identified as N. 1 in the map prepared by the Cambodian authorities and herewith attached. The map also includes, identified as N.2, a buffer zone to the East and South of the Temple.
  2. In the spirit of goodwill and conciliation, the Kingdom of Cambodia accepts that the Temple of Preah Vihear be nominated for inscription on the World Heritage List without at this stage a buffer zone on the northern and western areas of the Temple.
  3. The map mentioned in paragraph 1 above shall supersede the maps concerning and including the “Schéma Directeur pour le Zonage de Preah Vihear” as well as all the graphic references indicating the “core zone” and other zoning (zonage) of the Temple of Preah Vihear site in Cambodia’s nomination file;
  4. Pending the results of the work of the Joint Commission for Land Boundary (JBC) concerning the northern and western areas surrounding the Temple of Preah Vihear, which are identified as N. 3 in the map mentioned in paragraph 1 above, the management plan of these areas will be prepared in a concerted manner between the Cambodian and Thai authorities in conformity with the international conservation standards with a view to maintain the outstanding universal value of the property. Such management plan will be included in the final management plan for the Temple and its surrounding areas to be submitted to the World Heritage Centre by 1st February 2010 for the consideration of the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010;
  5. The inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List shall be without prejudice to the rights of the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Kingdom of Thailand on the demarcation works of the Joint Commission for Land Boundary (JBC) of the two countries…

Finally, after, and in spite of all the strong denials and accusations, the two Thai bombing suspects, Kobchai Boonplod and Varisareeya Boonsom, were arrested in Cambodia and handed over to Thai authorities.

We recall:

“If Thailand denies that they have accused Cambodia, then they should make corrections in all their media that have published such false information.”

“I think this is a play from the Thai government officials, who speak out without taking responsibility for their comments.”

Will this now – with reversed roles – be considered and implemented in Cambodia?

Please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

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Is there a larger view of the Preah Vihear map available, maybe as a PDF that can be enlarged? It could be hosted at Scribd, box.net, Google Docs, or many other places if a hosting site is needed.


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