Preah Vihear stands as a symbol of botched diplomatic efforts
By Nophakhun Limsamarnphun
Asda Chaiyanam, the former Thai envoy to the United Nations, told me the other day that a foreign government had spied on the Thai Foreign Affairs Ministry's Bangkok-based communications during 1960-63.
A total of 12 Thai officials, including those at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, were subsequently arrested by the Thai special branch police.
At the Foreign Affairs Ministry, thousands of official and classified Telexes were reportedly photocopied over the years and passed on to agents of this unnamed foreign
During that period, liberation and nationalist movements in neighbouring Laos and Cambodia were highly active. Asda suspected the espionage could be part of some counter-nationalist movements.
OK. Let me tackle this rubbish first. Espionage is bad. But what does this have to do with Preah Vihear? And what the hell is a counter-nationalist movement?
More interestingly, Thailand and Cambodia were at the time locked in the dispute over the Preah Vihear Temple.
I see nothing interesting about this. It is all conjecture and conspiracy theory rubbish.
After Thailand declined an offer from Cambodia to jointly manage the 11th-century Hindu temple around 1953 upon Cambodia's declaration of independence, Cambodia resorted to the International Court of Justice to claim ownership of Preah Vihear.
In 1962, ICJ ruled that Cambodia had sovereignty over the temple. Thailand was also ordered to withdraw its troops from the disputed area bordering Cambodia.
The Thai legal team included Belgian and British lawyers, while the Cambodian team included French and American lawyers.
Given the uncovering of espionage on the Thai Foreign Ministry prior to the 1962 ruling, Asda suspected that some classified information could have been lost to the Cambodian side as the Preah Vihear case reached the ICJ.
The insinuation, of course, is that the US spied on the Thai government and the CIA passed the information about the Thai government's case to the American lawyers helping Cambodia on Preah Vihear. This notion is idiotic, even for The Nation. Actually, when I think about, this rubbish is typical of The Nation. Basically, Nop is insinuating that there was a massive "counter-nationalist" conspiracy dreamt up by the Americans and the French to spy on Thailand, give information to the Cambodian legal team on Preah Vihear,corrupt the ICJ judges and deny Thailand a temple structure that is in no way considered Thai.
Thailand was at a disadvantage due to Cambodia's use of the French-drawn map. Moreover, Thailand failed on more than one occasion to legally oppose the map that included Preah Vihear in Cambodia's territory.
How was Thailand at a disadvantage? Cambodia was once a French colony, so it belonged to France. Thailand agreed in its peace treaty with France after World War 2 to give back all the territory it conquered during Thailand's invasion of western Cambodia during World War 2. Further, now the Thai nationalists are saying that the territory belongs to them based on an American map. I have yet to see the American map.
Here are some maps( the tip, which looks like a jutting peninsula at the bottom, is Preah Vihear):
As a result, the issue has remained unsolved for the past four decades.
The issue was resolved.
More recently, the General Border Committee was set up to try to tackle the border problem. However, there had been no progress over the past few years.
Asda said former premier Thaksin Shinawatra had scheduled a high-level meeting with Cambodian premier Hun Sen to discuss the demarcation issue on September 3, 2006.
However, the meeting was cancelled abruptly without giving clear reasons. On September 19 the same year, the military staged the coup d'etat that overthrew the Thaksin government.
What this information has to do with the rest of the story one can only imagine.
Then, the Surayud government came to power following the coup. Its position was to insist that Thailand and Cambodia jointly apply for the listing of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage site.
However, Cambodia no longer had any interest for a joint bid so it continued to prepare for the listing of Preah Vihear unilaterally.
In May this year, the Cambodian side succeeded in persuading the Samak government and Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama to officially endorse its unilateral bid for inscription of Preah Vihear.
What is the factual basis for this information?
However, the government later on faced a serious problem because it had failed to seek parliamentary approval before endorsing the Thai-Cambodian joint communique.
Foreign Minister Noppadon had to tender his resignation because the Constitution Court ruled that Article 190 was violated as far as the Preah Vihear issue was concerned.
Impeachment proceedings against the entire Cabinet are also underway.
Why the Thai government needs approval from parliament for a temple that belongs to Cambodia is beyond me.