Archive for December 2010
By The Nation
Negotiations with Cambodia to free seven Thais including a Democrat MP, have not gone well mainly because one of the group has previously been arrested for illegally entering Cambodia, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said on Thursday.
He was referring to a yellow-shirt leader, Veera Somkwamkit, who is known for his strong views on the Preah Vihear controversy and border disputes.
“The negotiation is facing more difficulties because Khun Veera has been held by Cambodian soldiers for entering a nearby site,” Suthep said.
Veera was earlier detained by Cambodian soldiers after being spotted on Cambodian soil. He was freed after lengthy negotiations.
On Wednesday, the Cambodian soldiers took into custody MP Panich Vikitsreth and six yellow-shirt activists including Veera while they were inspecting a paddy field in Ban Nong Chan village of Sa Kaeo’s Khok Sung district. The site has been claimed by both countries for decades following the settlement in Ban Nong Chan by a group of Cambodians fleeing the war.
The seven are now in prison in Phnom Penh and are scheduled to appear in court today.
Suthep told reporters that Panich and his team appeared to enter about 200-300 metres into Cambodia.
A senior security source meanwhile said that the site is a disputed area claimed by both countries, the area into which the group entered appeared to be behind the disputed line, deeper into Khmer territory.
By Pravit Rojanaphruk The Nation
There are times when some incidents in Thailand remind this writer of another society in a land far away. This was the case when virtually every mainstream mass media ignored certain “wires” about Thailand that were carried in WikiLeaks.
On December 15, a friend called urging me to read WikiLeaks reports on the ruling elite, links for which were available on the online version of England’s Guardian newspaper.
“Do it before it gets blocked,” was my friend’s instruction.
A few days later, out of sheer curiosity, I called another fellow journalist, asking what had happened to an online article reportedly quoting former premier Samak Sundaravej’s thoughts on the 2006 coup that appeared on her newspaper’s website only to mysteriously disappear soon after.
The answer I got was vague. But one thing was clear – our mobile phones might be tapped.
“I can tell when the sound starts breaking with noisy interference,” she opined.
To be fair, a few commentaries were written to criticise, albeit with great subtlety, the self-censorship of the mainstream Thai media regarding WikiLeaks.
This writer will not try to discuss this subject either, because that might lead to this article never seeing the light of the day.
Elsewhere, beyond the realm of the mainstream media, Thai Red News, a red-shirt mobile-phone SMS service, said on December 17: “Many Netizens have rushed online to access The Guardian website for an in-depth look at WikiLeaks reports.”
It did not even say which country this report was on, though the name can be safely guessed without breaking the lese majeste law.
Later, there were more leaks about the future of a certain institution from the views of two privy councillors and former premier Anand Panyarachun – again, none were reported. Then there was the conversation between the 2006 coup leader General Sondhi Boonyakalin and a former US ambassador to Thailand.
While the mainstream media kept mum, many – but not all – members of the public were alerted. Another friend told me her parents, both die-hard royalists, had no clue whatsoever about this issue because they only subscribed to mainstream media.
It is also unclear how effective alternative news networks such as prachatai.com will be in disseminating information to the wider public on the matter.
So here we are, approaching 2011, supposedly in an era of borderless, instantaneous information and yet many Thais still have no clue about news that should be on the front page of every newspaper and every television channel’s breaking news bulletin.
It is at moments like this that Thailand reminds me of North Korea – a secretive authoritarian society where censorship is the norm, where people are too afraid to speak publicly about certain issues and where paranoia about the state listening in is widespread.
I am sure many people will object to this comparison. To be honest, in many regards there is no comparison. Thailand is “committed” to being a democracy, or so our political leaders kept telling us, while North Korea’s Orwellian nature is much easier to detect.
But then, in a way, it is scarier to be living in Thailand, where the society is seemingly free but is not actually free and where censorship and self-censorship operates in a more effective and subtle way than in North Korea. In the end, there is no prison more frightening than one that its occupants are not quite aware of.
(AFP)—BANGKOK – Thai’s premier on Thursday demanded the immediate release of seven Thais, including a ruling party politician, who were detained by Cambodian troops near the countries’ disputed border.
‘Cambodia must release all seven Thais immediately,’ Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told reporters. ‘Cambodia should not take this case to court as it will further complicate the issue.’ The seven, including Democrat Party lawmaker Panich Vikitsreth, appeared in a court in Phnom Penh on Thursday for questioning, a day after being detained by Cambodian authorities, who said they had entered its territory illegally.
They were taken to the Phnom Penh municipal court under tight security in the morning for a hearing that was closed to the media, according to an AFP reporter. By mid-afternoon there was still no announcement by the court.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Wednesday the seven, who also include members of the royalist ‘Yellow Shirt’ movement, would be charged and put in jail to await trial.
In an attempt to secure their release, the Thai foreign minister was due to travel to Cambodia to meet his counterpart later on Thursday.
‘Cambodia must take into consideration that if they want cordial ties they should rely on negotiations. If not then there is a problem for both sides,’ Mr Abhisit said.
Where is loka sVar Kim Hong,the expert of Cambodia border demarcation, to counter Siam claimed new disputed border point?Does loka sVar have any proved document to counter Siam new claimed disputed border?
(AFP)—PHNOM PENH – A Cambodian court on Thursday charged seven Thais, including a politician, with illegally entering its territory, a prosecutor said, after they were detained near the countries’ disputed border.
‘The court has charged them with illegally crossing the border… and entering a military area with ill will,’ Sok Roeun, deputy prosecutor at Phnom Penh Municipal Court, told AFP by telephone.
The seven, including lawmaker Panich Vikitsreth of the ruling Democrat Party, appeared at a closed-door hearing at the court, a day after being detained by Cambodia.
The incident has rekindled diplomatic tensions between the neighbouring countries, which have a long-standing border dispute.
Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Thursday urged Cambodia to free the detainees.
‘Cambodia must release all seven Thais immediately,’ he told reporters.
BANGKOK, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) — Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya left for Cambodia to hold talks with his counterpart Hor Namhong over the issue of seven Thais detained by Cambodia as they were alleged to trespass on Cambodian territory.
The foreign minister will have discussion with Hor Namhong.
If the discussion is fruitful, Kasit will bring all the arrested Thais back with him on Thursday.
Democrat MP for Bangkok Panich Vikitsreth and the other six Thais were detained by Cambodian soldiers while they were visiting a disputed bordering area near Ban Nong Jarn in Sa Kaeo province’s Khok Sung district on Wednesday.
BANGKOK, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) — Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva Thursday called an urgent meeting of security agencies over the arrest of a Democrat MP and six other Thais by Cambodia authorities on charge of trespassing on Cambodian territory.
The meeting, held at the Government House at 9 a.m., was attended by Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, Supreme Commander Gen Kitti Jakkrabatra, Army Commander-in-Chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha and National Security Council Secretar-General Thawil Pliensri as well as Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, The Nation online reported.
Deputy Prime Minister for security affairs Suthep said on Thursday morning that the meeting would discuss ways to help Democrat MP for Bangkok Panich Vikitsreth and the other six Thais, who were visiting a disputed bordering area near Ban Nong Jarn in Sa Kaeo province’s Khok Sung district on Wednesday when they were detained by Cambodian soldiers.
Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya on Thursday morning went to Government House to discuss the matter with the prime minister and Suthep.
The seven detainees would be tried and held in prison in Phnom Penh Thursday, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen reportedly said.
PHNOM PENH, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) — Seven Thai nationals including at least one Thai lawmakers appeared before Phnom Penh Municipal Court at 9 a.m. on Thursday morning to face charges of allegedly trespassing on Cambodian territory in Banteay Meanchey province while inspecting the countries’ shared border.
Sok Roeun, deputy prosecutor of the court conducted the inquest.
Among the seven arrested were Panich Wikitsate, an MP from Democrat Party, Veera Somkwamkid, secretary general of People Network Against Corruption and Thailand Patriot Network core member, Samdin Lersbusya, secretary for Heaven and Earth Party, Kochpontorn Chusanaseree, assistant to Panich, Taynae Moongmachon, pressperson, Ms. Naruemol Chitwaratana, house keeper and Ms. Ratree Paiputana Paiboon, vendor, according to the court record.
They had been arrested on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. by Cambodian border protection army at the border pole No. 46 in Chhokchey village, Obiychhorn commune, Ochrov district, Banteay Meanchey province. The location is opposite to Norngchan village of Thailand’s eastern Sa Kaeo Province.
“They entered the prohibited military zone and entered Cambodian territory about 500 meters from the border boundary,” the source who declined to be named said before the inquest. “They could be charged with illegal entry,” he said.
Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday that there will be no any excuse for them, they will be sentenced according to the law, adding that Thai lawmakers have immunity only in Thai territory, not in Cambodian territory, Cambodia has the right to arrest and jail them according to the law.
However, Hun Sen said that “I hope that Thai Prime Minister and Thai people will understand Cambodia’s legal procedure, which nobody can violate. And I don’t think the event will affect Cambodia and Thai diplomatic relations or cause new border disputes.”
The Cambodian-Thai border has never been fully demarcated. And the two sides have had border conflict just one week after Cambodia’s Preah Vihear Temple was registered as World Heritage Site in July 2008.
Since the conflict started, military standoff has been on and off along the two countries’ border and several military clashes have already happened with recorded small causalities from both sides.
However, the border issue has been eased as the top leaders of Cambodia and Thailand have held four meetings since September.