The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 678
The Mirror was created to mirror the Khmer language press – that is to focus on important dynamics in society, as they are reflected in the press. That includes also to observe when there seem to be discrepancies between different streams of reporting. And it includes also to observe what seems not to be reported in the Khmer language press, though one would expect it.
Monitoring what is going on includes also to observe the reaction to one’s own publication. The main website of The Mirror by now gets up to 10,000 visits per month (it started in January 2007 with zero – replacing the former edition printed on paper).
While observing this wide interest with satisfaction, it is also disappointing to see that some important pieces of information, related to the conflicts with Thailand, are regularly not reported in the Khmer press. If this impression is wrong, we would appreciate to be informed which publications and public documents in the Khmer press we missed. The Mirror does not have access to confidential information; what we use and quote is publicly available, especially on the Internet.
In response to careful, detailed documentations, where we asked for specific responses, if our documentation is deficient, so that we can correct and improve it, there was either no response – and the public debate continues as if it were not missing some important points – or I get mail saying just “You are completely wrong!” I do not mind to get such mail, if it points to where I am wrong – I appreciate corrections.
Therefore I am repeating here some essential points, and I will do so until they are receiving proper attention in the present situation of tensions.
I was utterly surprised, talking recently to a friend who is a regular reader: when I mentioned some of the facts which had been on The Mirror repeatedly, he had obviously missed them. He thought the controversies about the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage list were related to Thailand referring to maps drawn by Thailand, and therefore Thailand was denying that the whole area around the Temple of Preah Vihear was designated a World Heritage Site.
The contrary is true, according to the documents. Emphasis in the following sections is added during editing.
For Preah Vihear
From the Cambodian 2008 submission document, THE TEMPLE OF PREAH VIHEAR – Proposed for the inscription on the World Heritage List (UNESCO), Edited by the Council of Ministers, PHNOM PENH, JUNE 2008:
On 6 May 2008 His Excellency Mr. SOK An, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, welcomed his Excellency Mr. Virasakdi Futrakul, Permanent Secretary of the Foreign Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand… The meeting was conducted in a fruitful and constructive atmosphere to discuss ways and means of strengthening the neighborly cooperation for a further reach for long lasting cooperation between Cambodia and Thailand… The Kingdom of Cambodia strongly stresses that the inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear is without prejudice to the demarcation work of the Cambodian-Thai Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary (JBC) between Cambodia and Thailand; and the zoning (“Zonage” in French) stipulated in the document submitted by Cambodia to UNESCO shall not be considered as boundary line.
And finally, during a meeting in Paris (France) on 22 May 2008 between a Cambodian delegation led by His Excellency Mr. SOK An,…The Kingdom of Thailand reconfirmed its support for the Heritage Committee to be held in Quebec, Canada in July 2008. For its part, the Kingdom of Cambodia, in a spirit of goodwill and conciliation, accepted to inscribe the Temple of Preah Vihear on the List of the World Heritage, at this stage, without a buffer zone on the north and west of the Temple.
On 18 June 2008, a Joint Communique was signed by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, including a map presented and signed by Mr. Var Kim Hong, the Head of the Cambodian Border Committee, which was – as far as we know – never presented in the media in Cambodia (again – any correction of this information is welcome), but it was repeatedly in The Mirror, including the Cambodian proposed map for the listing, the last time here. The text says the following:
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;..”
This is the last public map, a Cambodian map, which was to “supersede” – that is: to replace – the formerly used Cambodian maps.
As a consequence, this was decided:
The World Heritage Committee,
9. Notes that the property proposed for inscription is reduced and comprises only the Temple of Preah Vihear and not the wider promontory with its cliffs and caves;…
14. Requests the State Party of Cambodia, in collaboration with UNESCO, to convene an international coordinating committee for the safeguarding and development of the property no later than February 2009, inviting the participation of the Government of Thailand and not more than seven other appropriate international partners,…
15. Requests the State Party of Cambodia to submit to the World Heritage Center, by 1 February 2009, the following documents: c) Confirmation that the management zone for the property will include the inscribed property and buffer zone identified in the RGPP [“revised graphic plan of the property”]; d) progress report on the preparation of the Management Plan)
All these points were to be implemented after convening this international coordinating committee, inviting the Government of Thailand and others, to work together and to present their results.
– Why is the discussion in the Khmer media not referring to the official documents about the listing of the Temple of Preah Vihear, clearly limited in nature: “only the Temple of Preah Vihear and not the wider promontory with its cliffs and caves.” This is not based on a map unilaterally drawn by Thailand, but it relates to what the Cambodian side had officially brought to the World Heritage Committee. – There were even statements from people in official positions saying: “There is nothing to be discussed with Thailand.”
– Why are the Khmer media disregarding that there were – from the beginning – the following requests by the World Heritage Committee: “to convene an international coordinating committee… inviting the participation of the Government of Thailand… [to provide the expected results] – a) a provisional map providing additional details of the inscribed property and a map delineating the buffer zone…” It has never been reported in the press that the Cambodian Government did invite the Thai Government according to this request by the World Heritage Committee. – There were even statements from people in official positions saying: “There are no buffer zones.”
Reading the documents, it seems that Thailand is not insisting on some unilaterally drawn Thai maps, but looks forward that the documented decisions of the World Heritage Committee be implemented.
For the Border
This is a different legal issue from the World Heritage Listing (though, of course, related).
In order to demarcate the border between the two countries, a Memorandum of Understanding “on the Survey and Demarcation of Land Boundary” was concluded between the two countries in June 2000, long before the Preah Vihear World Heritage Listing was on the agenda of the relevant UNESCO committee. This Memorandum is related to the whole stretch of the border. That the whole length of the approximately 800 km border is to be demarcated shows that both sides agreed that this is not yet done – there is not yet mutually agreed border. Both sides agreed on this – otherwise they would not have signed this joint agreement.
While there is frequent reference to this Memorandum of Understanding from 2000 in the Khmer press, it was quite difficult to find it in Cambodia, also consulting with several persons from the media did not help. One e-mail request to a friend in Thailand immediately provided a source on the Internet.
But there is a noteworthy difference in the handling of the related task: While in Thailand, related government officials and agencies are accountable to the Thai National Assembly about what they do related to the border – the executive is monitored by the legislative – we are not aware that either the Cambodian National Assembly nor the Khmer press have requested similar information to monitor the activities of the Cambodian government officials and agencies involved. The different legal arrangements under the different constitutions of both countries result in different procedures.
Shortly after Prime Minister Hun Sen had made his conciliatory declaration about a win-win solution by mutual dialogue without a winner and a loser, several statements from various other sectors of the government were released, strongly blaming Thailand and calling for multilateral negotiations. The Prime Minister added his voice – but more recent news say that there still may be a bilateral meeting between the two prime ministers soon in Brussels at an ASEN meeting.
Whatever the future will bring in terms of bilateral or multilateral meetings – the written submissions and the documented decisions will have to be faced. To continue to disregard them can hardly bring the solution where both sides win, the goal that Prime Minister Hun Sen has seen as important for all.
Please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.
Thursday, 21.8.2008: Hun Sen Government Is Weak, It Conducts Diplomatic Politics by Kneeling Down to Beg Siam to Withdraw Invading Troops from Cambodia
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 574
Apologies: The link to the Joint Communique and the attached map – see further down – had been broken. It is now fixed. Thanks to the alert from a reader.
“To clarify one’s position by kneeling down under the pressure of the diplomatic politics by Siam [Thailand] or to say that the Hun Sen government is defeated by the Siamese [Thai] diplomatic warfare regarding the incursion by Siamese troops to control the Preah Vihear Temple and the Ta Moan Temple regions – these are two prominent positions to describe the representatives of the Hun Sen government. Hor Namhong, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Hun Sen government, promised Siam to revoke Cambodia’s complaint to the UN Security Council about the incursion by Siam into Cambodia, and the Hun Sen government also agreed to beg Siam, by withdrawing its troops unilaterally from the Preah Vihear Temple region, so that Siam also withdraws its troops from Khmer territory.
The press in Cambodia – the Khmer press and the international press alike – have not published (as far as we know – if we are wrong, please inform us) the extremely important Joint Communique, signed by the Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in Charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers of Royal Government of Cambodia, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, and the Assistant Director-General for Culture of UNESCO, on 18 June 2008. This was the last joint submission to the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO, which led to the listing of the Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site. The full document and the appended map [‘the map prepared by the Cambodian authorities and herewith attached’ to the Joint Communique] is here; (it is a big file of 1.3 MB). To read the Joint Communique and to see the attached map, you need to have the free Adobe Reader or a comparable software installed – you can download the Adobe Reader here.
We strongly recommend to have a look, especially also at the map with a tiny stretch of land in red, claimed as the perimeter of the Preah Vihear Temple.
This document is available internationally, it has been published various time in the Thai media. The Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs signed this document, relating to national sovereignty and territory integrity, without asking the Thai parliament for a decision, led to a verdict by the Thai Constitutional Court, accusing him of overstepping is responsibilities, and thus violating the Thai constitution – so he had to resign.
This document – co-signed in the name of the Kingdom of Cambodia – is also the basis for much public opinion in Thailand about the Cambodian government. It is surprising – and important to note – that this document of high international value, is not, or not easily, available to the Khmer public.
It seems that many arguments in the Khmer press are either not aware of this document, or avoid to see it, because of its bewildering implications. To analyze the content of the document might lead to some different conclusions and arguments, different from what is nowadays in the press. We provide today some references to the Joint Communique and invite our readers to appraise the situation, comparing and relating it to the Joint Communique and the new Cambodian map.
We would, of course, be happy to see some such reactions in the Comments you may write – or in e-mail to myself, the editor of the Mirror, at firstname.lastname@example.org
“This information was made known after a two-day-meeting on 18 and 19 August 2008, and especially, after a high ranking delegation of the government of Cambodia, led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hor Namhong, accompanied by senior representatives of the Minister of Interior of Cambodia, also came to visit the Siamese King at his palace in Hua Hin.
“Explaining that this is to express sympathy and friendship among good neighbors, between Cambodia and Thailand, and to avoid confrontation between Siamese troops invading and Khmer troops protecting its territory, Hor Namhong and the Siamese Minister of Foreign Affairs Tej Bunnang reported the same content about the results of these negotiations. Hor Namhong said that Cambodia agreed to withdraw a complaint against Siam’s incursion into the Preah Vihear Temple region to the UN Security Council; representatives of the Hun Sen government consider this to be a concession towards Siam so that they agree to withdraw also their troops from Cambodia.
“Moreover, Hor Namhong said also that in response to an order by Hun Sen, Cambodia agreed, on its side, to please Siam by promising to recall the Khmer troops from the Preah Vihear Temple region of Cambodia.
“Hor Namhong said, ‘We will withdraw all troops from the Contested Regions. We will withdraw also the complaint to the UN Security Council.’
“Cambodia filed a complaint to the UN Security Council to ask for intervention, asking to convene an urgent meeting, to solve the confrontation between Cambodian and Siamese troops, after Siam had invaded Khmer territory on 15 July 2008. However, the complaint of Cambodia to the UN Security Council was suspended by a phone call from the Siamese Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej on 24 July 2008 to Mr. Hun Sen, requesting him to suspend this complaint (it seems to be a very interesting books), one day before the UN Security Council would have discussed it.
The Khmer press speaks, in general, in general terms, of the invasion into Khmer territory, without considering the declarations of the Cambodian representatives, especially also the new map presented by Cambodia – not bu Thailand! – with the Joint Communique, which says:
“1. The Kingdom of Thailand supports the inscription… 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…
2….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.”
On 15 July 2008, Thai troops moved into the “northern and western areas of the Temple” which were not claimed by Cambodia “at this stage” as part of the territory of the perimeter of the Preah Vihear Temple, listed as a World Heritage Site.
“Mr. Hor Namhong said also, ‘We will withdraw the troops unilaterally form the disputed regions to express the good will of Cambodia, to avoid a confrontation that might lead to armed conflict.’
“What is seen is that Siam has a landslide victory in its diplomatic warfare, hiding its military incursion into Cambodia, when the head diplomat Hor Namhong, on Hun Sen’s order, agreed to do everything by kneeling down to totally beg Siam – like through the promise to revoke the complaint against Siam to the UN Security Council, and to announce to withdraw the Khmer troops from Khmer territory first, so that Siam agrees to withdraw its invading troops also.
What is called here “Khmer territory” seems to be part of the area contested between both countries – but more specifically in this case – an area outside of the perimeter claimed by Cambodia for the listing by the World Heritage Committee – see the note above.
“Observers and experts officials said that the Hun Sen government made Cambodia to be a looser, because that territory belongs to Cambodia, as stated in the verdict of the International Court of Justice in The Hague in 1962. If Cambodia dares to order its troops back to the region again, Siam will take the opportunity to use this as a reason to order its troops to control Khmer territory. It is not believed that there will be proper and just solutions in the meetings attended by foreign affairs ministers, interior high ranking officials, and the Cambodia’s Border Committee, to guarantee that Siam will give up its invading ambition ordering its troops to control Cambodian territory.
“Getting out from the Khmer-Siamese foreign affairs ministerial meeting on 18 August 2008 in Hua Hin, and then visiting the Siamese King, Hor Namhong said that the Khmer and the Siamese sides agreed to leave only ten soldiers at the Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak Pagoda, and twenty soldiers close to the pagoda, in order to lessen the confrontation by both sides.
The Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak Pagoda lies in the ‘buffer zone on the… western areas of the Temple’ which was ‘at this stage’ not claimed by the Cambodian negotiators as part of defining the perimeter of the Preah Vihear Temple.
“Furthermore, the head of the Khmer diplomats Hor Namhong said that, as a concession which is quick like an arrow, aiming to defuse the confrontation between the troops of both sides, that the government of Cambodia agreed to withdraw all its troops from the border, and will turn to negotiate peacefully through meetings between the border commissions of both countries.
“In the meantime, regarding about the movement of troops by Siam into the Ta Moan Temple on Khmer territory in the western Dang Rek Mountain region, it was kept as a separate issue. The Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs Tej Bunnang said that it was not on the agenda to discuss the Ta Moan Temple issue, and both sides agreed to deal with it next time.
“This shows that it is a strategic trick of Siam in the diplomatic field to create new problems, while Cambodia is weak in this field, as well as in the field to defend the nation.
“Both sides claim that the solution for the disputes at the Preah Vihear Temple is to plan to look for border markers, to clearly mark the border lines. To say so is another political trick of Siam, since, in general, they know that a verdict in the International Court of Justice in The Hague on 15 June 1962 clearly stated, by basing its verdict on the French and Siam treaties of 1904 to 1907, signed by both sides about the Khmer and Siam borders lines, which was marked in an official map in 1908.
The court, in a very lengthy document publishing its verdict, stated that the court
‘…by nine votes to three, finds that the Temple of Preah Vihear is situated in territory
under the sovereignty of Cambodia.’
The text of the verdict clarifies things related to the temple; it does not clarify the border questions in the region. That is why both countries agreed that the next step necessary now is to work on the border demarcation.
As a related question, it would be interesting to know how the different border clarifications – with Laos, with Vietnam, and with Thailand – which have been already accomplished something, or which need still to continue to work, relate to Article 2 of the Cambodian Constitution:
‘The territorial integrity of the Kingdom of Cambodia, shall absolutely not to be violated within its borders as defined in the 1/100,000 scale map made between the year 1933-1953 and internationally recognized between the years 1963 – 1969.’
This statement seems to imply that all border questions which all neighbors are already solved – otherwise, how could there be finite, clear, detailed numbers?] – but many sections of the borderline with neighboring countries are not yet solved..
“Just having seen that the Hun Sen government agreed to kneel down to beg Siam with promises that Cambodia will withdraw its troops, even from the Preah Vihear Temple of Cambodia, to please Siam so that they withdraw their troops from the areas where they invaded Cambodia, allows everyone to knows that the Hun Sen government is very weak diplomacy, as well as militarily to defend its territorial integrity. How can Khmers then hope that Cambodia, ruled by the Hun Sen government of the Cambodian People’s Party, will not lose Cambodian territory, because they serve the interests of themselves or of factions among the leaders of Siam and of the Hun Sen government?” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #226, 21.8.2008
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 21 August 2008
Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1725, 21.8.2008
- Kuwait Asks to Establish Its Embassy in Cambodia and Kuwait Will Come to Invest in Cambodia
- Thai Opposition Group Asks Britain to Extradite Mr. Thaksin for Trial
Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #226, 21.8.2008
Hun Sen Government Is Weak, It Conducts Diplomatic Politics by Kneeling Down to Beg Siam to Withdraw Invading Troops from Cambodia
Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #78, 21.8.2008
- Price of Gasoline Is Reduced [by Riel 400 to 500, approx. US$0.10] after the Government Had Asked for Reductions
- US Ambassador to Cambodia [Joseph A. Mussomeli] Will Hold His Final Press Conference on Monday 25 August 2008 [his mandate ends]
Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6429, 21.8.2008
- Latest Information from Preah Vihear Temple Area: Number of Delegations, Donors, and Tourists Declines
Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3544, 21.8.2008
- Sam Rainsy: I Do Not Trust the Constitutional Council; They Wants to Finish the Cases Whenever They Want
- Yim Sovann [Sam Rainsy Party official]: The Price of Fuel on the Cambodian Market Is Still High because There Are Not Many Companies Competing with Each Other
Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4673, 21.8.2008
- [Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation] Hor Namhong Compares the Negotiations [over the Preah Vihear Temple] to a Steam Roller [that it is slow but still moving]
- [South] Korea Asks Cambodia to Support Investments in Mineral Resources and Energy in Cambodia
- Many Houses of Members of the Women’s Coalition for Peace and Development Were Destroyed by a Group of Soldiers [15 August – over land disputes – Srae Ambel, Koh Kong]
The European Community Puts a High Value on Elections and Vows to Continue to Help Cambodia
Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3390, 21.8.2008
- Eng Chhay Eang Resigns as Secretary-General of the Sam Rainsy Party, Causing Political Doubts
- Ministry of Agriculture Prepares to Allow Import of Pike Fish [from Vietnam – making officials in the provinces at the border unhappy, as they have been well off from pike fish smuggling]
Click here to have a look at the last editorial – apprehension while waiting for the results of challenging alleged election fraud, the final official election results, and the forming of a new government
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