Archive for August 2008
29 August 2008
(BangkokPost.com) – Core leader of People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) Sondhi Limthongkul called on his supporters living throughout the country to come into Bangkok as quickly as they can and join the anti-government rally at the Government House.
Mr Sondhi called Friday the “judgement day” and that the group would not let anyone to dictate them.
“Today is the judgement day,” he said. “We will not let anyone to order us what to do. We will win.”
29 August 2008
(Bangkokpost) Political problems in Bangkok have forced Thailand to postpone talks with Cambodia on further reducing troops in the disputed border area near the Preah Vihear temple, a military source said yesterday. A formal meeting had been scheduled for today and tomorrow in Siem Reap, where informal talks were already under way. They have now been called off.
The source said the anti-government rally by the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), which laid siege to Government House, influenced the postponement of the Regional Border Committee meeting. Thailand was concerned that the PAD could take advantage of the dispute, the source added.
But the Foreign Ministry denied in a statement that the decision to postpone the talks was in relation to the political situation in Thailand. It said the postponement was because the two countries had not completed their own internal processes necessary for negotiations.
Nipat Thonglek, director-general of the Border Affairs Department, pointed to the failure of the two countries to reach an agreement on the number of troops to be withdrawn from the disputed border area between Si Sa Ket’s Kantharalak district and the Cambodian province of Preah Vihear as the main cause.
The troop reduction was a sensitive issue that required further negotiations, he added. The meeting is expected to be postponed until next month, according to Lt-Gen Nipat.
Thailand and Cambodian agreed in talks between Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag and Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong on Aug 18 for the second phase of military reduction from the disputed area.
Now Thai paramilitary rangers and Cambodian troops number only 30 soldiers each, including 10 each at the Keo Sikha Kiri Svara pagoda near the Preah Vihear temple and 20 in the area around it.
Cambodia also withdrew its soldiers from the Preah Vihear temple. It sent only 50 police and military police to guard the ruins. But 300 Thai rangers remain in other parts of the disputed overlapping zone, along with 500 Cambodian soldiers.
Another source said Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh had discussed the reduction of the military presence at the Preah Vihear temple, as well as the dispute over the Ta Moan Thom ruins in Surin during his meeting with Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej on Monday.
29 August 2008
According to reports from some agencies in Phnom Penh, Cambodia is planning to build a “Berlin-style” wall to shut-off Thailand and develop tourist facilities around the still disputed Preah Vihear Temple by its own.
The Cambodian government will build a series of walls at “complicated border areas,” while still calling for talks to mark and properly demarcate the frontier, Camdodian Information
Minister Khieu Kanharith and a government spokesman told reporters at a press conference.
“Both sides should start to discuss to plant border markers from undisputed border areas to the complicated border areas and some complicated border areas will be built with border markers or concrete walls,” Khieu Kanharith said.
“Cambodia will allow private companies to invest at least $2 million dollars at the Preah Vihear Temple to set up cable cars for tourists,” he explained, adding that the government is also trying to rebuild an existing road to the temple.
It seems that the Preah Vihear border gate to Thailand will only be opened again, when the situation there is stable, but foreign tourists could visit the temple from the Cambodian side. At the moment, authorities have closed the temple grounds to visitors. For decades, the only way to get to Preah Vihear was through Thailand, because the temple is situated atop a sharp cliff on the Cambodian side (www.tourismindochina.com/history-cambodia.htm).
Cambodia and Thailand share a border of over 800km with only 73 demarcation markers, the Cambodian official said on Sunday.
At a meeting on Aug 18-19, Cambodian and Thai foreign ministers agreed to arrange second-phase troop redeployment at the disputed border area near the temple.
They agreed to a meeting of the Cambodian Temporary Coordinating Task Force and the Thai Regional Border Committee on Aug 29 in Cambodia to discuss the troop redeployment.The two foreign ministers also agreed to recommend to their governments that the next meeting of legal experts and the Thai-Cambodian Joint Border Committee be convened in early October, to discuss the issues related to border survey and demarcation of the relevant frontier sectors.
On July 15, Thai troops went into the border area to fetch three trespassers who had intended to claim Thai sovereignty over the Preah Vihear Temple. The incident triggered a military standoff, as troop strength on each side grew to more than 1,000 soldiers. In 1962, the International Court of Justice (or World Court) in Den Haag/Holland decided that the 11-century temple belongs to Cambodia
By Reinhard Hohler, eTN Ambassador, Chiang Mai
(1) PM Samak Sundaravej: 5 PAD leaders will be arrested
(BangkokPost) – Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej said he has ordered the arrest of five leaders of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) that led protesters to lay siege on Government House and government ministries Tuesday morning.
He also confirmed at a televised press conference for foreign media that about 85 people, accused of seizing control of the state-run National Broadcasting Services of Thailand (NBT) television station were detained this morning.
Meanwhile, deputy police spokesman Surapon Thuanthong said police will ask for approval of arrest warrants for the PAD core leaders on Wednesday. He added that police have gathered evidence against them since May 25.
(2) Malaysia’s Anwar wins by landslide in election
Permatang Pauh, Malaysia (dpa) – Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on Tuesday won a landslide victory in a special by-election, marking his return to Parliament after 10 years.
Anwar won by an astounding majority against his opponent Arif Shah Omar Shah from the ruling National Front coalition, Malaysia’s Election Commission officials announced.
While officials have yet to announce the exact majority, total votes for Anwar from all 28 polling stations in the northern Permatang Pauh constituency are ‘at least double’ that of his opponent, opposition members said.
(3) Samak: Our tolerance is limited
The Nation, Published on August 27, 2008
Samak said he would starve out the PAD protestors occupying the Government House’s compound and insisted that he would employ “soft and gentle” tactics in dealing with the demonstrators.
Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej yesterday warned protesters his government’s tolerance was drying up, but he fell short of saying what action authorities would take to end the street protests.
Samak assigned Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Kowit Watana to handle security and oversee police efforts.
“I was granted an audience with His Majesty the King. His Majesty asked me to enforce the law with extreme caution, to be soft and gentle. I beg all of you to understand and sympathise with me,” Samak was quoted by an official source as telling the Cabinet.
Samak accused the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) of going too far with its mass protest in Bangkok yesterday, including the seizure of state-run National Broadcasting Television and some ministries.
Speaking to foreign reporters early yesterday evening, Samak said he would starve out the PAD protesters occupying the Government House’s compound and insisted that he would employ “soft and gentle” tactics in dealing with the demonstrators.
He said no food would be permitted to enter the compound and that more officers from outer provinces would be deployed to Bangkok to help with maintaining security.
Samak said other options, such as the Emergency Law, could be used but expressed concern that such approaches could tarnish Thailand’s international standing.
He told foreign correspondents at the press conference that the protestors wanted the government to “spark” violence so the military could stage a coup.
“They want bloodshed in the country. They want the military to come out to stage a coup,” Samak said.
He said the mass protest, which drew tens of thousands of people to street, were the work of about five of six leaders from the PAD who also succeeded in luring people form upcountry to part in the demonstration.
Samak said the PAD leaders had grievances with ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra who he said had “returned a little too early” because the sentiment against him has yet to subside.
According to him, the leftover anti-Thaksin sentiment, as well as the government’s decision to amend the Constitution, was the reason behind the PAD’s continuing with the street protest.
Samak said he was on good terms with everybody, including the military and the monarchy and insisted that he was not a proxy of Thaksin or receiving funding and instruction from the ousted premier – a claim that has long been dismissed by the PAD and his critics.
He confirmed that the “From National Mother’s Day to National Father’s Day – 116 days to Built Unity” celebration, which HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will preside over on August 30, will go ahead as scheduled.
Concern over his personal safety has the police from Lat Phrao station boosted the number of guards at Samak’s home in Soi Navamin 81 amid rumours the PAD might go to the PM’s house.
Cabinet ministers were forced to shift their weekly meeting place from Government House to the Supreme Command headquarters on Chaeng Wattana Road, at 10.30am. However, it took about two and a half hours for Samak to make that decision.
Protesters will be dispersed in 24 hours: Gov’t spokesman
Police are expected to complete clearing protesters off the grounds of Government House within 24 hours, government spokesman Wichianchot Sukchotrat said on Tuesday.
“Government House will open for business no later than Wednesday and everything will be backed to normal in 24 hours,” he said, voicing confidence that police could evict protesters.
The crowds would be dispersed and the prime minister deems the situation unwarranted to declare a state of emergency, he said.
Thailand, Cambodia agrees to develop tourism at disputed Preah Vihear temple
BANGKOK, Aug 25 (TNA) – Thailand and its neighbour Cambodia have agreed to promote tourism at the disputed ancient temple ruins of Preah Vihear, after troops of both countries have been withdrawn, said Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej on Monday.
The agreement was made following a private luncheon and talks at Government House here between Mr. Samak and Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Gen. Tea Banh.
Speaking to journalists after the talks ended, Mr. Samak who is also Defence Minister, said both countries had agreed to solve common border problems and promote areas which could attract tourists.
“Territorial problems which cannot be resolved by now will be left for negotiations later,” he said, adding that Cambodia has agreed to redeploy its troops from the temple and a “middleman will be appointed to oversee promoting tourism with an aim to bring back tourists”.
“Both countries will benefit as Cambodia would collect the gate fee while Thailand will enjoy other benefits,” he said.
“But the temple cannot be opened for tourism now,” said Mr. Samak, “as no one (soldiers) must be there.”
Monday’s agreement to promote tourism at Preah Vihear temple came after Thai Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong on August 19 agreed to adopt a provisional arrangement pending a survey and demarcation of the area to be carried out by the Joint Boundary Commission, expected to be convened in October.
The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that Preah Vihear belongs to Cambodia, but the surrounding land remains in dispute.
The Thai-Cambodian border has never been fully demarcated, in part because it is littered with landmines left from decades of war in Cambodia. (TNA)
Written by Thet Sambath
Monday, 25 August 2008
(Phnom Penh Post)
Ta Moan Thom temple to be linked to nearby town, will be closer to soldiers
Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered military engineers to build a new 9km road from Prey Veng village in Oddar Meanchey province to the Ta Moan Thom temple complex near the Thai-Cambodian border in a cabinet meeting last week.
Funding for the road will come from a foundation established by the Cambodia Television Network (CTN) to provide support for troops currently stationed along the border, said Tok Kimsay, director of the foundation.
“We are appealing to the general public and to wealthy donors to help fund the road to Ta Moan Thom,” Tok Kimsay said. “We believe people will contribute because the road will help protect the sovereignty of the Kingdom.”
Thai soldiers occupied the Ta Moan Thom temple complex following an escalation in the dispute at Preah Vihear that began in July. They withdrew on August 5 after an agreement was reached between Thai and Cambodian leaders in Oddar Meanchey province, but appear to have reoccupied the ruins over the weekend, military commanders say.
The new road will run from Prey Veng village to a checkpoint gate constructed by Thai forces to prevent civilians and soldiers from accessing the temple.
Heavy rains have made access to the area difficult for soldiers and local residents. “Now we can reach the temple only by tractor or on foot,” said Ho Bunthy, deputy commander of Border Military Unit 402.
“Our soldiers have been guarding the temple for years, and we’ve had to do so on foot during the rainy season. The new road will help us more effectively defend the border.”
CTN’s Tok Kimsay said the lack of roads prevented Cambodian soldiers from getting to the site quickly and allowed Thai soldiers to strengthen their foothold at the temple.
He added that the CTN foundation has already received nearly US$400,000, which it has used to purchase food and supplies for soldiers at Preah Vihear, Anlong Veng district and Ta Moan Thom.