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Archive for May 2011

Cambodia says UNESCO not postpone Preah Vihear temple’s management plan

PHNOM PENH, May 27 (Xinhua) — The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has not postponed the consideration of the management plan for Preah Vihear temple, scheduled for June 19 to 29 at the 35th session of World Heritage Committee, the cabinet minister Sok An, Chairman of the Cambodian National Commission for UNESCO, said on Friday night.

Sok An’s assertion was made after the Thai state media MCOT online news reported on Friday Thai Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Suwit Khunkitti said the UNESCO supported Thailand ‘s request for the agency’s World Heritage Committee (WHC) to postpone consideration of the management plan for the areas surrounding the World Heritage-listed temple, pending demarcation of the border between Thailand and Cambodia.

Sok An said that Suwit Khunkitti had raised the postponement request to the UNESCO during the meeting on May 25 to 26 on Preah Vihear temple issues at the UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris, France under the mediation by the UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.

“But the Thai request has not fulfilled because we (Cambodia) disagreed to postpone it,” he said in a live telephone interview from Paris by the local Cambodian Television Network. “It is completely untrue that Thailand said the UNESCO agreed to postpone the consideration of the Preah Vihear temple’s management plan.”

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) awarded Preah Vihear temple to Cambodia in 1962 and the temple was enlisted as a World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008.

Since then, both sides have built up military forces along the border and periodic clashes have happened, resulting in the deaths of troops and civilians on both sides.

Cambodia confident temple management plan to be accepted by UNESCO…Siam said otherwise

PHNOM PENH, May 29 (Xinhua) — Cambodia is firmly confident that the UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee (WHC) will officially accept the management plan of Preah Vihear temple proposed in the 35th WHC meeting in Paris on June 19 to 29, said a top government official on Sunday.

“In the next month’s meeting, the World Heritage Committee will make the official decision on the management plan of Preah Vihear temple, which Cambodia submitted in the last year’s annual WHC meeting,” the cabinet minister Sok An, Chairman of the Cambodian National Commission for UNESCO, said Sunday at Phnom Penh International Airport upon his arrival from Paris, where he held talks with Thai Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Suwit Khunkitti on Preah Vihear temple issues under the mediation by the UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.

“Cambodia has enough legal documents, which are internationally recognized, to support that the temple’s management plan is done in Cambodian territory,” he said, adding that the plan has also been admired by UNESCO for its good and standardized preparation in the last year’s committee meeting.

However, the Bangkok Post online newspaper reported on Sunday that Suwit Khunkitti said the UNESCO has not made decision yet on whether the WHC will debate Cambodia’s management plan.

Suwit Khunkitti said that Thailand and Cambodia would hold more talks over Cambodia’s management plan for the disputed 4.6-square- kilometre area around Preah Vihear temple ahead of the 35th WHC meeting next month.

In response, Sok An said that Cambodia welcomed more meetings with Thailand under the UNESCO arrangements prior to the next month’s WHC meeting in June.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) awarded Preah Vihear temple to Cambodia in 1962 and the temple was enlisted as a World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008.

Since then, both sides have built up military forces along the border and periodic clashes have happened, resulting in the deaths of troops and civilians on both sides.

New round of temple talks likely…fruitless

NO DECISION YET ON WHETHER WHC WILL DEBATE CAMBODIA’S MANAGEMENT PLAN

BKpost—Thailand and Cambodia will hold more talks over Cambodia’s management plan for the disputed 4.6-square-kilometre area around Preah Vihear temple, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti says.

Mr Suwit, who heads the Thai delegation, was speaking after his return from Paris where the two countries met last week but failed to reach agreement over the issue.

The countries met twice for talks on Wednesday and Thursday at a special meeting organised by Unesco in Paris.

Thailand was able to convince UNESCO to postpone consideration by the body’s World Heritage Committee (WHC) of the issue during the 35th WHC meeting on June 19-29 until border demarcation work is completed. However, it failed to persuade Cambodia.

Cambodia still insists on its right to table the management plan at the meeting. Cambodia’s delegation was led by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An.

Mr Suwit yesterday said another bilateral discussion on the matter would be held before the WHC meeting, when the Preah Vihear management plan is set down for its official review.

The management plan contains a border demarcation map which Thailand believes needs more work.

Postponing the plan would enable more talks on the matter to be held.

Mr Suwit said the Thai-Cambodia Joint Boundary Committee meeting must come up with a conclusion on demarcation work before talks on Cambodia’s management plan can proceed.

Mr Suwit said a conclusion on whether to put off consideration of Cambodia’s management plan for the disputed area around the Preah Vihear temple has not yet been reached.

Cambodia still wanted Thailand to correct some information that appeared in the document in which Thailand asked to have Cambodia’s management plan postponed. He said Cambodia wanted to correct the information by adding the minutes of the previous 34th WHC meeting into the document.

Mr Suwit said there was no need to add the minutes of the meeting into the document as the corrections could lead to problems interpreting the document.

Irina Bokova, director-general of Unesco, did not want the conflict between the countries to escalate and wanted the two sides to hold talks.

Mr Suwit said Thailand had proposed itself as host of the 36th WHC Meeting in 2012. Other countries bidding for the opportunity include Russia and Cambodia.

Rival parties poach from Pheu Thai’s turf

Bangkokpost—Both the Bhumjaithai and Democrat parties have successfully recruited candidates and canvassers from the rival Pheu Thai Party in its northern stronghold in the run-up to the July 3 election.

Key players targeted by the parties include powerful local political clans and administrative officers such as village heads, or kamnan.

Some local leaders of red shirt groups _ which are key supporters of Pheu Thai _ have also been approached by Bhumjaithai officials and asked to switch sides, say political powerbrokers and party supporters interviewed by the Bangkok Post Sunday.

At the 2007 election, the People Power Party _ the predecessor of Pheu Thai _ won 49 seats in 17 northern provinces, while the Democrats secured 15 seats.

In Chiang Rai province, the son and daughter of former Pheu Thai MP Somboon Wanchaithanawong will run in the election under the Bhumjaithai Party banner.

Suthirapong Wanchaithanawong and Athiti Nunnamsirasawad are both members of provincial administrative organisations.

Mr Somboon defended his children’s decisions saying it was their right to decide which party they wanted to work for, adding he could not force them to follow in his footsteps.

But their decisions have angered some senior figures of Pheu Thai who barred Mr Somboon from attending a recent party meeting and tried to convince him that his children should abandon Bhumjaithai.

Another powerful political family in Chiang Rai province, Chongsuthanamanee, which has strong ties with Mr Somboon, has also been recruited, with two family members running for Bhumjaithai.

The situation is similar in Phayao province, a Pheu Thai stronghold and home to hardcore red shirt groups. Phayao has three constituencies, and all were won by People Power Party MPs at the last election.

In Constituency 1, which covers Muang district, Bhumjaithai is fielding the son of a powerful local politician, Anurat Tanbanjong, who is also a member of the provincial administrative organisation.

His uncle is a Pheu Thai stalwart and will run for that party in another Phayao constituency.

During the registration period, the two relatives avoided each other, canvassers and party sources said.

“Bhumjaithai has picked him because they might believe that his family’s local power will help bring in votes for him,” one canvasser who has worked for Pheu Thai MP Phairoj Tanbanjong said.

He said both Bhumjaithai and the Democrats had tried to get Pheu Thai canvassers and local red shirt leaders to change sides. However, he said they had stuck with Pheu Thai as its predecessor party, People Power, had introduced policies popular with voters.

In Phrae province, where former Pheu Thai MP Worawat Ua-apinyakul shot to prominence during a debate on red shirt deaths since 2009, Bhumjaithai has struggled to find viable candidates, with the exception of one member of the provincial administrative organisation.

The province has been dominated by Pheu Thai’s predecessor parties and the Democrats, and political observers believe that this election will be no different.

The Democrats are relying heavily on one of their deputy secretaries-general, Siriwan Prasjaksattru, known locally as mae liang tik (wealthy woman).

Mrs Siriwan has convinced her brother Phongsawad Suphasiri, president of Phrae United football club, as well as her sister, Suphawan Suphasiri, a former AIS executive, to run for the Democrats.

She laid the political groundwork in the province long before the election was announced, pursuing popular projects such as a new nurses training college, rescue vans and an entertainment venue. “With the increasing popularity of Mrs Siriwan, Pheu Thai’s path will not be paved with roses this time,” one political observer said.

Bhumjaithai deputy leader Bunjong Wongtairat said the party was fielding reputable candidates, adding it was normal to get some help from local powerful figures. He said the party will fight the election on policies rather than personalities, but declined to explain further.

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China reprimands Vietnam over offshore oil exploration

BEIJING – China criticised Vietnam on Saturday for its offshore exploration of oil and gas in the contested South China Sea after Hanoi complained that three Chinese patrol boats had challenged a Vietnamese ship.

The Vietnamese ship, the Binh Minh 02, detected the Chinese patrol boats approaching on radar at about 5am on Thursday (6am Singapore time), the official Vietnam News Agency reported.

About an hour later, the three Chinese boats intentionally ran through the area where the Vietnamese ship was working, snapping cables the ship was using, then left the scene after about three hours, it said. China’s Foreign Ministry implied the fault for the incident lay with Vietnam.

‘China’s stance on the South China Sea is clear and consistent. We oppose oil and gas operations conducted by Vietnam, which have undermined China’s interests and jurisdictional rights in the South China Sea and violated the consensus both countries have reached on the issue,’ ministry spokesman Jiang Yu said.

‘What relevant Chinese departments did was completely normal marine law-enforcement and surveillance activities in China’s jurisdictional sea area,’ she said in a statement posted on the ministry’s website (www.mfa.gov.cn).

‘China has been committed to safeguarding peace and stability in the South China Sea. We are willing to work together with relevant parties to seek a solution to related disputes,’ Ms Jiang added. Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry protested against the incident by passing a diplomatic note to representatives of the Chinese embassy in Hanoi on Thursday.

Midwives on motorbikes spread sex sense in Cambodia

CHANLOUNG – Sitting in the shade of a large tree and surrounded by a group of women, Cambodian midwife Ly Siyan holds up a colourful poster displaying a range of contraception options.

She patiently waits for the giggles to subside when she points to a condom, aware that the two dozen women in the village of Chanloung in north-west Siem Reap province have rarely experienced such an open discussion about sex.

Once the 37-year-old has their full attention again, she talks about long-term contraceptive methods and debunks some of the more persistent myths about their side-effects.

For mother-of-two Beun Chem, 27, who wants to hold off having more children so she can focus on running her small shop, the midwife’s explanations are eye-opening.

‘I am happy to learn about contraception and reduce some concerns I had. Now I want to try the implant.’

She said she first heard about the device – which is inserted under the skin of a woman’s arm and can prevent pregnancy for up to five years by releasing hormones into the bloodstream – on television.

Thailand arrests American for alleged king insult

AP—BANGKOK – Thai authorities said Friday they arrested an American citizen on charges he insulted the country’s monarchy by posting a link on his blog four years ago to a banned book about the Southeast Asian nation’s ailing king.

The 54-year-old man has denied the charges, which also include inciting public unrest and violating Thailand’s Computer Crimes Act, according to the Thai-language prachatai.com news website, which tracks cases of lese majeste, as the crime of insulting the monarch is known.

The Thai-born man lived in the U.S. state of Colorado for around 30 years before returning recently to Thailand for medical treatment, the website said.

Walter M. Braunohler, the U.S. Embassy spokesman in Bangkok , identified the man as Joe Gordon. A court official, who declined to be named because she is not authorized to speak to the media, gave the man’s Thai name as Lerpong Wichaikhammat.

Thailand is a constitutional monarchy but has severe lese majeste laws that mandate a jail term of three to 15 years for any person who “defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir to the throne or the Regent.”

Critics say the lese majeste laws — used with alarming frequency over the last several years — are often a weapon of political harassment and calls have grown recently to amend or abolish them.

Thai-based media routinely self censor coverage of the royal family, but the Internet has tested the taboo. Thai authorities have responded by trying to block thousands of websites considered subversive, arguing that defending the monarchy is a priority.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Special Investigation, Thailand’s equivalent of the FBI, said the American was arrested Thursday in the northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima. Speaking on customary condition of anonymity, she said he was being held in a Bangkok prison after a Thai court denied his request for bail.

The American had posted a link on his blog in 2007 to “The King Never Smiles,” an unauthorized biography of King Bhumibol Adulyadej that is banned in Thailand, the DSI official said.

Praachatai.com said police arrested the man at his home and seized a computer and cell phone.

Braunohler said a U.S. consular officer visited the American on Friday morning.

He declined comment further, saying only that officials were following the case “very closely.”

“We’re still looking into what the exact charges are,” Braunohler told The Associated Press.

Sensitivity over criticism of the monarchy has increased in recent years as the poor health of the country’s 83-year-old king has elevated concern about a smooth succession. At the same time, sharp partisan political battles in the wake of a 2006 military coup have unleashed unprecedented questioning of established institutions, including the palace.

Thailand’s freedom of speech reputation has taken a battering in recent years, as successive governments have tried to suppress political opposition. Its standing in the Press Freedom Index issued by the Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders slid to 153 last year from 65 in 2002, when the ratings were initiated.

In March, a Thai court sentenced Thanthawut Taweewarodomkul — the operator of an anti-government website — to 13 years on charges of defaming the monarchy and three more years for violating the Computer Crime Act.

The 38-year-old ran a website affiliated with the anti-government Red Shirt movement whose aggressive street protests last year deteriorated into violence and were quashed by the army.

The 2007 Computer Crime Act addresses hacking and other traditional online offenses, but also bars the circulation of material deemed detrimental to national security or that causes panic. It carries a penalty of up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of 100,000 baht ($3,285).

link: http://www.bahtdew.blogspot.com