Thursday, February 03, 2011

OPINION: Thailand’s selective reading of the Franco-Siamese Treaty of 1904

I took quite sometimes until Thailand feels comfortable enough to utter the expression “Franco-Siamese Treaties of 1904 and 1907”. It kept on wishing that those treaties disappear in thin air. But that is not possible. Yet Thailand manages to read them selectively, leaving out things that are politically undesirable, but legally inescapable.

In making reference to the Franco-Siamese Treaty of 13 February 1904 (or the 13 February 1904 Convention), Thailand has implicitly omitted part of the provisions in Article III by saying that “Thailand did not accept the France-made 1:200,000-scale map to determine the boundary line,” as written by Supalak Gunjanakhundee in his opinion piece in the NATION on 1 February 2011 under the title: “Thailand Takes stand on Cambodia.” By “Thailand,” Supalak Gunjanakhundee refers to Abhisit Vejjajiva. 

First of all, it gives the impression that in Thailand, anything is legal when it is politically desirable. This theory works in Thailand. But in an environment where politics have no reasons to be there, and where the application of the rule of law is king, Thailand knew for sure that there is no way out, but to capitulate. I am talking about Thailand’s experiences at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 1962 when Thailand tried in vain to convince the judges at the ICJ that Article 1 of the 1904 Treaty is the only essential and important part of the Treaty, as every other thing that is written in the Treaty should not be considered by the ICJ. Has Thailand succeeded, the 15 June 1962 Judgments would have been different.

            When Supalak Ganjanakhundee wrote that “Thailand did not accept the France-made 1:200,000 scale map to determine the boundary line,” he meant to say that Abhisit Vejjajiva  does not recognize the 1904 Franco-Siamese Treaty, or does selectively recognize part of it, or selectively omit the parts on the delimitation of the frontiers between the Kingdom of Siam and the territories making up the French Indochina, to be carried out by Mixed Commissions comprised of officers appointed by the two contracting parties, and the end result of the Mixed Commissions tasks was the production of the 1:200,000 scale Dangrek map, also known as ANNEX I map at the ICJ in 1962 and other maps. It was the convoluted way to say that Abhisit Vejjajiva does not recognize the international frontier line that has existed almost a century ago by invoking all possible nonsense of their speculative use of words, such as “French map” instead of international map, “old map” instead of international and binding map. How Abhisit Vejjajiva  and  Thailand have tried to manipulate the reading of the 1904 Treaty has remained the single political tool still viable in Thailand to take Cambodia hostage of Thailand internal political squabbles.   

Abhisit Vejjajiva and Thailand with him cannot pretend to recognize the 1904 Franco-Siamese Treaty, without recognizing the 1:200,000-scale Dangrek map and the international frontier line on this internationally recognized map. If it is for domestic political consumption only, Abhisit Vejjajiva and Thailand can say all the nonsense they wish to say, but they must be careful not to project their traditional innate arrogance against Cambodia, that blinds Abhisit Vejjajiva and Thailand to the point of becoming the laughing stock of the international public opinion.

It is advisable that in terms of good neighborly relation between Thailand and Cambodia, Abhisit Vejjajeva and Thailand altogether must read and apply international agreement, in this particular case the 13 February 1904 Franco-Siamese Treaty in its entirety, and with all sincerity and wisdom as a Prime Minister of a civilized nation in the 21st century. Regardless of the arrogance, aggressiveness and offensive language by Thailand, Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia has never lost sight of his dream and wisdom to build peace with neighbors and with all countries in the region and the world, and to develop the border area to be a peaceful and prosperous region for Cambodian and Thai people.

Waddhana P
Senior Analyst and Researcher on
Cambodian-Thai Relations
Institute for International Affairs, Cambodia
3 February 2011  

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