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Thai Ex-Minister in Trouble Over Preah Vihear

By – August 5, 2013
A former Thai foreign minister is facing misconduct charges over a statement he signed with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An regarding the Preah Vihear temple, according to a Thai newspaper report.

Noppadon Pattama—once an adviser to disgraced former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and who was foreign minister for five months in 2008—signed off on a joint communique with Mr. An in June of that year supporting Cambodia’s application to list Preah Vihear as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Amid political turmoil in Thailand, the Thai National Anti-Corruption Commission accused Mr. Noppadon and other members of the People Power Party of breaching a rule in the country’s Constitution that says Parliament must be consulted on any treaty affecting Thai territory.

Bangkok-based English-language newspaper The Nation reported yesterday a Thai court on Saturday “began the process of indicting” Mr. Noppadon for misconduct.

The report says Mr. Noppadon is currently free on bail and has denied the allegations, claiming that the agreement with Cambodia did not affect Thailand’s territory.

Unesco inscribed Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site in July 2008. Mr. Noppadon resigned later that month and tensions mounted during the year until clashes broke out around the temple in October.

Cambodia’s Council of Mini­sters spokesman Phay Siphan said the joint communique did not affect Thai territory since Cambodia conceded, in order to expedite inscription, that the World Heritage site would only cover the temple itself, not the disputed surrounding area.

“It was not territorial, he just supported listing the temple,” Mr. Siphan said. “His signature [on the joint communique] took place after the decision of Unesco, in principle, to agree to inscription.”

 

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