While raging protest in Egypt at its tenth day has been in the international limelight, PAD protest in Bangkok has reached a certain stage where the door-slamming and bridge- burning rhetoric against Cambodia made by Sondhi Limthongkul has deeply hurt the whole Khmer people. The following day, on 04 February 2011, Thai solders invaded Cambodian territory and opened fire at Cambodian armed forces at Sambok Khmum, located just 500 meters from the staircase of the Temple of Preah Vihear and other areas deep inside the Cambodian territory; just as Cambodian and Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs were discussing Their “love-hate” relationships at the 7th meeting of Cambodia-Thailand Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation in Siemreap.
What a coincidence it is! There are reasons to believe that it is not a coincidence, but obviously a well-planned tactic, prepared beforehand by Abhisit, finally seen as the most hawkish among Thai ruling circle.
As a matter of fact, Abhisit demanded on 27 January 2011 that Cambodian flag hoisted at Keo Sikha Kiriswara pagoda be removed and later, on 31 January 2011, he threatened “to use force as the last option” and bullied Cambodia by declaring that “Thai government will not be afraid of war with Cambodia”. Simultaneously, he ordered Thai forces to stage military exercise with heavy artillery at the Temple of Preah Vihear area.
Is it a “mutually reinforcing tool of forces and diplomacy” tactic that bigger countries used to carry out against smaller one in order to get influence at the table of negotiation? Or, simply an open aggression from their position of military superiority, just as a few days ago, Chamlong Srimuang told the Yellow Shirts that “our fighter jets can reach Cambodia in five minutes”?
But, on 05 February 2011, to the disbelief of everyone, this same man ludicrously read a statement from the same stage of PAD rally that “The exchange of fire between Thai and Cambodian solders (...) was an act of invasion of Thailand’s sovereignty”. How can Chamlong unscrupulously dare to issue this false statement since earlier he threatened to send fighter jets to bomb Cambodia? Or, is that Thai way in dealing with their smaller neighbor?
Quite the contrary, the truth of the matter is that this flagrant aggression by Thai armed forces is the product of the irresponsible leadership of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva who just revealed last Sunday that “ he shares the same stance with the PAD regarding to the border dispute” He went on to say that “ that is the first government which is clearly opposed to the 1:200.000 map and the registration of Preah Vihear as world heritage site”.
Undoubtedly, Abhisit’s order to wage war against Cambodia as demanded by the on-going PAD rally is solely driven by his vested interest without considering any subsequent spillover effect of this unwanted and unnecessary war against Cambodia. The war he is not afraid of has affected not only the daily life of the people living next to the border on both sides but also the image and confidence of Asean.
With this relation, the Secretary General of Asean, Mr. Surin Pitsuwan called on both sides to allow “some form of mediation by the Asean leadership” to help to prevent this serious situation from escalating into open conflict that “will definitely affect our economic development, confidence in our region”
In this spirit, the current Asean chair, Dr. Natalegawa, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia is expected to arrive in Phnom Penh today. We warmly welcome him and wish him a successful mission in ending Thai aggression which caused heavy damages to the Temple of Preah Vihear by many shells from Thai artillery last night. Also in this morning, Samdech Techo Hun Sen has appealed to the UNSC to stop this aggression before it escalates to a larger scale; “nobody wins in this war” he said in a ceremony to award diplomas to students at National Institute of Education in Phnom Penh.
Finally, we would like the Asean leadership to tell Abhisit to not listen to Chamlong and Sondhi from the street stage but instead to Winston Churchill from the UN stage who once declared: “better talk, talk, talk than war, war, war”. Therefore, even Churchill was afraid of war.
07 February 2011