Thailand Denies Hun Sen’s Claims of Rising Border Tensions
By and | February 26, 2013

A Thai official on Sunday denied that tensions with Cambodia over contested borderland were on the rise, despite a surprise warning from Prime Minister Hun Sen that Thailand is planning to take military action if the International Court of Justice (ICJ) awarded the territory to Cambodia in an upcoming decision.

On Friday, Mr. Hun Sen said Thailand “will used armed forces” should the ICJ award Cambodia a 4.6-square-km border area next to Preah Vihear temple over which the two countries have fought several brief but deadly battles since 2008. Mr. Hun Sen advised the Cambodian military to be on high alert “for any bad actions that disturb our sovereignty.”

The ICJ is scheduled to hear oral arguments from Thailand and Cambodia in mid-April—ahead of national elections here in July—and is expected to issue a decision later this year.

The Bangkok Post on Sunday reported that the Thai and Cambodian defense ministers were planning to meet for lunch on Tuesday to “cool tensions” over the disputed area ahead of the ICJ’s decision.

But Thai Foreign Affairs spokes­man Manasvi Srisodapol said bilateral relations—which have warmed considerably since the election of Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in 2011—were still good.

In any contest over international borders, he said, “there are always groups of people who would express their opinions on certain things…but there’s not tension as we understand right now.”

Mr. Manasvi did confirm the Bangkok Post’s report that the two countries’ defense ministers were scheduled to meet on Tuesday, but not to cool tensions.

“It’s an expression of good relations that we have at all levels with Cambodia,” he said of the meeting.

General Neang Phat, a secretary of state at Cambodia’s De­fense Ministry, however, denied reports of a meeting.

“There is no meeting,” he said, before declining to comment further.

Lieutenant General Srey Dek, commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces’ Division 3, stationed in Preah Vihear province, said he knew of no meeting be­tween the defense ministers ei­ther, and that the situation was calm on the border.

“The situation along the border is stable,” he said.

Thailand and Cambodia withdrew hundreds of soldiers from around the temple last year, replacing them with armed police.

Analysts have blamed the governments in both Phnom Penh and Bangkok for playing up the border dispute over the years for their domestic audiences during their respective election seasons.

© 2013, The Cambodia Daily. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in print, electronically, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without written permission.

LATEST

The cabinet of Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday accepted a petition from villagers from Kratie province’s Snuol district who are requesting intervention in a land dispute with a plantation owner.

Environment Minister Say Sam Al on Wednesday lauded the country’s controversial sugar industry and the jobs it has created, saying that companies operating in the sector need to be defended against the widespread criticism they have been receiving.

As the international community on Wednesday lauded the opposition CNRP’s agreement with the ruling CPP to take its seats in the National Assembly, some of the opposition’s most outspoken allies talked of treachery from a party that months ago was demanding a re-election or the resignation of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

In the aftermath of the covenant struck between Prime Minister Hun Sen and CNRP President Sam Rainsy on Tuesday, the opposition was fast to frame the deal as a grudging and rare concession from an authoritarian party deeply protective of its power.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who was banned from running in last year’s national election, will now be sworn in as one of the CNRP’s 55 lawmakers, with Kompong Cham province lawmaker-elect Kuoy Bunroeun standing down to become an opposition member on the new bipartisan electoral commission.

The Cambodia Daily | All the News Without Fear or Favor | The Daily Newspaper of Record Since 1993