It’s Time for UNSC to End the Never-Ending Thai
Hostility against Cambodia over the Temple of Preah Vihear
Notwithstanding the verdict of the ICJ in 1962, Thai ruling classes have never given up their ambitions to re-annex the Temple of Preah Vihear which was occupied by forces shortly after the departure of French from Cambodia in 1953.
In the late 1950s, facing their arrogant fait accompli and as a result of vehement protest from Cambodia, they invited the latter to negotiate but at the same time they carried out various forms of intimidation such as military manoeuvres next to the border and violent demonstration in front of the Royal Embassy of Cambodia in Bangkok on 07 September 1958. As a matter of fact, it should be noted that during this demonstration, organized in response to the call of General Praphat Charusathien, Minister of Interior, the demonstrators held many banners which read: “Thai will ask ICJ to give them back the four provinces” (Battambang, Siemreap, Sisophon and Koh Kong), “ Preah Vihear is ours” (Bangkok World of 08 Sept 1958).
Then, after the release of ICJ verdict which was different from their high expectation to win this case against Cambodia, Marshall Sarit Thanarat made a televised statement saying “the government had no choice but to accept the ruling of the court”.
Later, on 04 January 1963, King Father Norodom Sihanouk, then Head of State, stated at Choam Ksan in Preah Vihear province the following: “The Thais have finally, after much prevarications and many delaying manoeuvres, evacuated Preah Vihear. That has not unfortunately prevented them from making good the loss by further expansionism: they have drawn a new frontier line, to our disadvantage in the neighborhood of Preah Vihear itself. In particular, they have laid barbed wire and set up military or police posts which in certain places encroach to a considerable depth on our territory, thus scorning the judgment of the ICJ” (ref: letter dated 23 April 1966 from Prince Norodom Kantol, Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Royal Government of Cambodia to the President of UNSC).
This statement by King Father was justified by Sondhi Limthongkul’s recent interviews on ASTV in which he alleged that “the loss of Preah Vihear was the fourteenth among the so-called Thailand’s Lost Territories”. Sondhi went on to say that while withdrawing from the Temple, Thai military didn’t take off the flag but up-rooted the flag- pole as a symbol that one day they could reinstall there again.
Not so long after the reoccupation of the Temple of Preah Vihear by Cambodia, Thai armed forces relaunched from 14 to 22 April 1966 an open aggression against Cambodian positions next to the Temple with heavy weaponry including F-105 fighter jets in an attempt to reoccupy the Temple (ref: letter dated 17 May 1966 from H.E Huot Sambath, Permanent Representative of Cambodia to the President of the UNSC-S/7305-18 May 1966).
Hence, last week aggression by Thai armed forces against Cambodia at Preah Vihear is a repetition of the history that follows the same pattern since 23 November 1940 when Thailand, being allied with the Axis Powers, re-annexed Battambang, Sisophon, Siemreap including Preah Vihear.
Now, it is becoming clear enough that Thai ruling classes whose many elements of the residual spillover of the old-cliché have never abandoned their expansionistic policy towards Cambodia. Last week, Abhisit revealed that his government opposed to the 1: 200.000 map. This means that Thailand opposes to the ICJ verdict and is using instead military aggression to force Cambodia to comply with its mysterious and unilateral map in the same way as did Hitler. It is also beyond beliefs of everyone that “Thailand argues that it owns the 4.6 squarre kilometres area and the land the stone ruins are standing on”. How bizarre it is! What does it mean?
It means that their self-image of superiority is directed not only towards Cambodia, but also towards ICJ including judge Dean Acheson whose outstanding accomplishments have convinced former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to consider him “as the most historically respected Secretaries”. And as ICJ is part of the UN bodies, this arrogant argument is seen as provocative also towards international community as a whole. Similarly, they have hectored UNESCO’s leadership and threatened to withdraw Thai membership over the inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear as World Heritage.
This time, their tactics remain exactly the same as they did half a century ago: waging war of aggression with support from on-going PAD protest which inflames ultra-nationalistic sentiment and encourages heated rhetoric against Cambodia and its leadership while warning any intervention of the third party to the negotiation including the UN. But, in this new era, they cannot mislead the world body by their slanderous campaign of intoxication against Cambodia, despite their dominant media.
For instance, following swift and opportune diplomatic action of Samdech Techo HUN SEN in persuading UNSC to” convene an urgent meeting so as to stop Thailand’s aggression”, the UNSC has taken on the issue as an urgent matter and has decided to convene such a meeting today, 14 February 2011, with the participation of ASEAN Chair, Dr.Marty Natalegawa, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia despite the bitter disappointment of Abhisit.
We are not in a position to speculate the outcome of the meeting but, we think that it’s about time UNSC issued a final and definitive resolution to end this never-ending Thai hostility against Cambodia which has been always the victim for more than half a century and also to safeguard peace and stability in the region in line with the UN Charter and also with that of ASEAN.
14 February 2011