Foreign Ministry Says No Thai ‘Red Shirt’ Resistance in Cambodia

Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong reiterated Thursday that a resistance to Thailand’s military junta would not be allowed to operate on Cambodian soil after a prominent Thai dissident based in the country signaled his intent to create such a body in the West.

Jakrapob Penkair, a founder of Thailand’s pro-democracy “red shirt” movement and a former spokesman for ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, said at a cafe in Phnom Penh last week that an organization would be created outside of Asia to oppose the junta.

The body could foreshadow a government-in-exile, he said. In response, the Thai military junta this week threatened to “hunt down” Mr. Jakrapob, and has since summoned him to report to it on Monday.

Mr. Kuong denied Thursday that Mr. Jakrapob is presently in Cambodia and repeated the government’s stance against any resistance.

“The authorities have claimed clearly that there’s no Jakrapob in Cambodia,” he said. “Up until today, he is not present in country.

“No one, not an individual or a person from any group or any country, has the right to create a government here in Cambodia to be against any other government,” Mr. Kuong added.

Mr. Jakrapob travels frequently and confirmed Thursday that he is not in Cambodia, having departed the country twice since last week.

“I came back to Phnom Penh and left again,” Mr. Jakrapob said in response to questions sent via email. “A lot of mobility lately. Now I am at a place better left unsaid, for sake of the people I am with now.”

In an article published Thursday, however, Reuters claimed to have spoken with Mr. Jakrapob in a telephone interview from Phnom Penh. Calls to Mr. Jakrapob’s phone last night went unanswered.

In his email, the Thai dissident, who has been based in Phnom Penh in exile since fleeing Thailand on accusations of lese majeste in 2009, also reiterated that his resistance to the junta would not be based in Cambodia.

“I made it abundantly clear that such a formation will not be done in Cambodia or any connected area to Thailand,” he said.

“We are mindful of Cambodia’s delicate position and will not do anything to jeopardize it. I met you in Phnom Penh as a passerby,” he said, referring to a meeting with a reporter on May 29. “I do not hold any permanent residence in Cambodia. No one can accuse Cambodia of knowing about, let alone supporting, our plight.”

Mr. Jakrapob said last week that he will be named secretary-general of the organization to oppose the junta when it is announced later this month. On Thursday, he said that a meeting on the body is set to be held in Europe on Saturday but did not specify the city.

Mr. Kuong declined to give a definitive answer Thursday when asked whether Mr. Jakrapob will be allowed to return to Cambodia soil.

“We’ll look into the reality,” he said, declining to elaborate.

[email protected], [email protected]

© 2014, The Cambodia Daily. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in print, electronically, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without written permission.