Archive for August 2010
19/8/2010 The Bangkokpost
The Preah Vihear dispute cannot be raised at a multilateral level without the mutual consent of both the governments of Thailand and Cambodia, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said on Thursday.
“If Cambodia wants to raise the dispute alone at the multilateral level, this cannot be done. The consent of both countries involved is needed,” said Mr Suthep.
“I think that the dispute can be solved through talks between the two countries.”
Mr Suthep was responding to the Cambodian move to seek intervention by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to help resolve the border spat, to avoid any large scale armed conflict.
Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga was quoted as saying in a statement on Tuesday that “as Asean chair, Vietnam is actively consulting other Asean countries about the proposal that Asean should mediate the Preah Vihear dispute”.
Media reports quoted Asean secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan saying he expected Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to meet and discuss the dispute on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem), scheduled for Brussels in October.
Mr Suthep said he had no knowledge about the matter. However, Mr Surin might have directly contacted Mr Abihisit about the matter.
He said the dispute over the contested 4.6 sq km border area around the cliff-top temple is a big issue and that it will take time to settle the problem.
Meanwhile, Mr Abhisit expressed confidence that the border dispute with Cambodia can be settled through diplomatic channels.
“If we handle the negotiations gently the situation will improve, no one will lose and the people of both countries will benefit,” Mr Abhisit said on Thursday.
He said his government can resolve the rift with the Cambodian government over the listing of Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site.
There were two essential needs in solving the border row. The Thai and Cambodian governments must each show their sincerity in wanting to solve the issue through peaceful means, and people from both countries must work together to ease the tension along the disputed frontier area.
“But Thai people need to show their unity first, because conflict amongst ourselves makes the problem even more difficult to solve.
“The problem is not easy to solve, but the government will do its best,” the premier said.
Negotiations between the two sides must fall within the rules and regulations of the United Nations, he added.
19/8/2010 AFP—PHNOM PENH – Four Cambodian women were injured in an acid attack by a jealous lover in Phnom Penh, police said on Thursday.
A 22-year-old man allegedly threw a bottle of acid over a 23-year-old female garment worker outside a factory on the outskirts of the capital on Wednesday, local police chief Born Sam Ath told AFP.
The attack badly burned the woman, identified by police as Keo Savorn, and slightly injured three others who were nearby at the time, he said.
‘The attack was related to a love triangle,’ Born Sam Ath said, adding that police were hunting for the attacker.
Acid attacks, while decreasing in recent years, are still a common form of revenge in the Southeast Asian nation, often committed by jilted lovers.
The Cambodia government is drafting a new law aimed at suppressing acid attacks, with possible life sentences for perpetrators, according to officials.
BANGKOK, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) — Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen are expected to meet when they attend the upcoming Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) early October in Brussels, the Nation online reported Thursday.
ASEAN Secretary General Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, who was on transit to capital Jakarta, Indonesia, on Wednesday, expressed the hope that the two leaders would take the opportunity in Belgium’s capital to discuss bilateral issues of mutual concerns.
Premier Abhisit and Hun Sen will join the other Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN leaders to meet their European counterparts in Brussels, where the EU headquarters is situated.
In a related development, Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban has reiterated here that Thailand wants only bilateral talks with Phnom Penh to settle the border conflict.
Surin’s revelation came after his trip to capital Phnom Penh, Cambodia, early this week leading a Thai-Muslim delegation to visit Cambodian-Muslim community at the invitation of Hun Sen, the Thai News Agency (TNA) reported.
The ASEAN Secretary General also presided over a table-top exercise on pandemic management among the ASEAN members.
Cambodia and Thailand have been at loggerheads over the 11th- century Khmer Preah Vihear temple, which in 1962 was awarded to Cambodia by the International Court of Justice.
On July 29 the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee (WHC) decided to reschedule its discussion on Cambodia’s management plan for the Preah Vihear temple to its 35th annual meeting in Bahrain in 2011.
The WHC decision of rescheduling its discussion on Cambodia’s management plan for the Preah Vihear temple was made at the 34th WHC annual meeting in Brazil.
Thailand and Cambodia have historically laid claim to the site, which is located on a mountain top on the Thai-Cambodia border. The disputed area of 4.6 square kilometers has not been demarcated.
As the International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that the Preah Vihear temple belonged to Cambodia, but the 11th-century Hindu temple can only be easily accessed from Thailand.
The Asia-Europe Meeting, which was initiated in 1996 when the ASEM leaders met in Thailand’s capital Bangkok, is an informal trans-regional platform for dialogue and co-operation between the two regions.
DILI, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) — Foreign Minister of Singapore Jorge Yoe said that Timor-Leste should not be anxious to apply for being member of the Association of the Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN), but it had to make self-preparations, Televizaun Timor-Leste reported on Thursday.
Yoe stressed that Singapore did not close the door to Timor- Leste to become member of the ASEAN, but he preferred Timor-Leste to create proper conditions before applying it.
During three-day visit in Timor-Leste, Yoe plans to meet the country’s leaders to talk on Singaporean’s position of endorsing Timor-Leste to become member of the ASEAN.
HANOI, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) — The second Vietnam-Africa International Forum closed here Wednesday, marking a new progress in the multi-faceted relations between Vietnam and Africa.
Speaking at the closing ceremony, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem said the forum was important as it helped promote Vietnam-Africa cooperative relations to a new height in terms of both scope and quality.
Khiem said that delegates held frank and substantive discussion on cooperation between Vietnam and Africa from reviewing the relations between the two sides in recent years to putting forward new measures to enhance the relations.
Following the forum, Vietnamese government will build a general roadmap to intensify its cooperative relationship with African countries in the next ten years, he said.
Vietnam expects African countries to join hands in building and implementing cooperative mechanism, agreements and other legal documents to create the most favorable conditions for the two sides.
Vietnam commits to doing its utmost to develop a long-term and sustainable cooperative relations with African countries, said Khiem. The cooperation will bring benefits to both sides.
During the two-day forum, delegates discussed food security, agricultural cooperation and poverty reduction, trade, energy and investment cooperation, and human resources for economic recovery and development.
They also witnessed the signing ceremony of agreements on economic, cultural and scientific and technological cooperation between Vietnam and Seychelles and between Vietnam and Togo.
17/8/2010 The Economist by D.M
Since the suppression of the red-shirt protests in May, official Thailand has been consumed in a frenzy of committee-dom. Abhisit Vejjajiva’s government has created a half-dozen high-level committees, including a National Reform Committee, an Assembly for National Reform, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a Constitutional Reform Committee.
Speaking at Bangkok’s National Institute of Development Administration earlier this month, Chetana Nagavajara, a retired professor of German, offered a trenchant indictment of today’s political climate. His theme was that loquacity can be all too easily pressed into service as a cover for mendacity. Talking-shops, such as the current crop of top-heavy reform committees, are known around the world for their tendency to drift into bureaucratic hokum. Their sponsors tend to offer them up as harmless measures, intending to raise awareness of problems, perhaps, and anyway to help everyone muddle along. In a case like Thailand’s however, they take on a more sinister aspect. These committees are dangerously lacking in legitimacy. When it looks like a ploy to divert the public’s attention, too much talk can be corrosive, harming civil society and eroding trust in public institutions—exactly when it is most needed.
Mr Chetana showed the audience a short video clip entitled “I’m sorry Thailand”. It was recently banned from private television by the censorship board.
Here’s a translation of the voiceover (never mind the undercurrent of “Auld Lang Syne”):
Did we do anything wrong?
Were we too violent?
Did we listen to only one side of the story?
Did we perform our duties?
Did we really think of the people?
Were we corrupt?
Did we exploit people?
Did the media make people wiser?
Did our society deteriorate?
Did we love money more than what was right?
And did we just wait for someone else to help?
If there was anyone to blame, it would be all of us.
And if there is anyone who can fix things, it would have to be: all Thais.
Keep the loss in mind and turn it into our force.
Mr Chetana thinks that the state’s intolerance of criticism, even such mild stuff as this, reflects a deep malaise. The mandarins in Bangkok seem to have developed a preference for half-truths to harsh truths. (Mr Abhisit himself had said that the video ought to be allowed to air–but then he did nothing to prevent its censorship.)
Thailand is still deeply torn, perhaps no less so than at the traumatic climax of this crisis. Here as in any fractured society, suppressing debate in a moment like this is a recipe for further calamity.
Mr Chetana draws a comparison with the experience of post-war Germany. He read from his own translation of Christoph Meckel, a writer and poet born in Berlin, who wrote in 1974:
The poem is not a place, where beauty is cultivated.
Here we speak of salt, that burns in the wounds.
Here we speak of death, of poisoned speeches,
Of fatherlands, that resemble iron shoes.
The poem is not a place, where truth is adorned…
The poem is not a place, where dying is pacified,
Where hunger is satiated, where hope is glorified.
The poem is the place for the mortally wounded truth.
Whether in poetry or in online video clips, it is Mr Meckel’s sort of place that Thais need desperately to find today. An uneasy calm has prevailed since May 20th, when the army broke up the red shirts’ encampment, but the country’s aggrieved parties are still nursing terrible wounds. They must be aired and treated in the open, not fussed over in obscure and echoing committee chambers. High-flying public talk, when carried out in a climate of censorship, cannot help but be mendacious.
PHNOM PENH, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) — Cambodia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on Wednesday inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to Cambodia to expand the agricultural products for communes around Tonle Sap Lake.
The fund of 4.4 million U.S. dollars from Japan will work on the projects of enlarging the agricultural products for 36 communes in Pusart, Battambang, and Kompong Cham provinces respectively, according to DAP News in its website on Wednesday.
Sean Vuthy, under-secretary of state for Ministry of Agriculture, was quoted as saying that the fund will help local communities and people to reduce poverty and provide the better livelihood.
“The fund will assist to strengthen the bilateral cooperation and friendship between the two countries,” the representative of JICA to Phnom Penh said after the signing ceremony of the MoU at the ministry.
Last week, Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered local authorities to devastate the illegal reservoirs built on the lake and also release directives to prevent the flooded forests from illegal cutting. Illegal land grabbing at the lake is a big concern for the government.
Tonle Sap is the largest freshwater lake in the Southeast Asia and the natural reservoir of Cambodia which four million Cambodians depend on directly for their livelihoods.
The lake covers about 250,000 hectares during the dry season and expands to about 1.25 million hectares during the rainy season.
It is the habitat for more than 200 species of fish, 42 types of reptiles, 225 species of birds and 46 kinds of mammals.
Tonle Sap Lake also is a hub of rare flocks of birds that attracts the foreign tourists to see.
18/8/2010 AP—BANGKOK — A government helicopter crashed during a rain storm in northern Thailand and all five people aboard, including senior officials from the environment ministry, are believed dead, officials said Wednesday.
Rescuers reached the crash site early Wednesday and found five corpses near the wreckage of the helicopter, which went down Tuesday after losing contact with air traffic control, said Police Lt. Col. Sawaroj Intarawongchai.
“It looks like the helicopter crashed into a mountain due to bad visibility,” he said.
The bodies were believed to be those on the helicopter but all were crushed beyond recognition and officials wanted to transport them to Bangkok for an autopsy for confirmation, Sawaroj said.
Aboard the helicopter were two pilots, the ministry’s permanent secretary, the ministry’s inspector-general of National Parks and an adviser to the royal family.
The helicopter took off from Phitsanulok province and was flying to a remote village in Nan province where the officials were scheduled to preside over a ceremony for a community environmental project. Air traffic control lost communication with the helicopter less than an hour after it took off and headed into heavy rains, Sawaroj said. The chopper disappeared from radar about two hours later.
Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti was headed to the crash site later Wednesday, Thai media reported.
17/8/2010 AP—HANOI, Vietnam – Former foes Vietnam and the United States held their first ever defense talks on Tuesday, which a senior U.S. official called extremely productive and successful.
“I was struck by the open and frank discussions that we were able to have even though this is the first time that this dialogue was held,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Robert Scher told a joint news conference with Vietnamese Vice Defense Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh.
The talks came as the two countries celebrate the 15th anniversary of their normalization of relations after being enemies in the Vietnam War. Last week, an American warship, the USS John S. McCain, docked in Vietnam and the two navies conducted training exercises — a sign of growing military ties.
“This dialogue … represents the next significant, historic step in our increasingly robust defense relationship which is based on mutual trust, understanding and respect for independence and sovereignty,” Scher said.
He said the two sides talked about how they could better cooperate in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, search and rescue, international peacekeeping and maritime security.
“I continued to be struck by the commonality of approach that our two countries share and the amount of cooperation that we have been able to achieve in a very short amount of time,” Scher said.
China has been uneasy with recent U.S. moves in the region, including military exercises with South Korea and the warming military relationship with Vietnam.
Vinh, however, said Vietnam’s increased military ties with the U.S. would not harm others.
“We believe this cooperation brings about benefit to Vietnam and the United States,” he told the briefing. “This cooperation does not do harm to the interests of any other country.”
Vietnam views U.S. influence in the region as a counterweight to China, which claims disputed islands in the South China Sea. Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines also have staked claims on all or some of the territory, which straddles vital shipping lanes, important fishing grounds and is believed rich in oil and natural gas reserves.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Prime Minister Hun Sen are expected to meet one-on-one when they attend the upcoming Asia Europe Meeting early October in Brussels.
Asean Secretary General Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, who was on transit to Jakarta yesterday, expressed the hope that the two leaders would take the opportunity in Belgium’s capital to discuss bilateral issues of mutual concerns. The two will join other Asean leaders to meet their European counterparts in Brussels, where the EU headquarters is situated.
Surin’s revelation came after his trip to Phnom Penh early this week leading a Thai-Muslim delegation to visit Cambodian-Muslim community at the invitation of Hun Sen. He also presided over a table-top exercise on pandemic management among Asean members.