Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Published on October 22, 2009
(Posted by CAAI News Media)
If Chavalit Yongchaiyudh's decision to virtually lead the Pheu Thai Party is something of a political rebirth, he has hit the ground running.
One day in Phnom Penh and a bombshell was dropped on the already sour relationship between Thailand and Cambodia.
Following a meeting with Chavalit, Cambodian Premier Hun Sen told reporters how his wife cried at the mention of Thaksin Shinawatra's fate and how a plan to give Thaksin a home "that deserves his honour" was discussed.
"We have been great friends since Thaksin was businessman and the relationship has remained the same since he entered politics," Hun Sen said.
"Though I'm not Thai, I'm hurt by what has happened to him. My wife even cried on knowing about it and has an idea to build a home for Thaksin to come and stay honourably."
It was the closest thing to saying Cambodia would be willing to give Thaksin a political exile, an issue which will present both countries with an awkward situation, in addition to the Phra Vihear conflict, going into the Asean summit.
Chavalit, on his return to Thailand from the one-day visit to Cambodia, confirmed what Hun Sen said. And true to his characteristics, he created more speculation by suggesting he was ready to meet Thaksin's arch-rival Sondhi Limthongkul.
Sondhi's People's Alliance for Demcoracy reacted guardedly to that, saying that no matter what Chavalit had in mind, the PAD's fundamental stand remains unchanged _ Thaksin has to serve his jail term first, and the rest can be discussed later.
There have been whispers, though, that Chavalit had met another PAD key man, Chamlong Srimuang, before deciding to seek a "summit" with Sondhi. A Chavalit-Sondhi meeting, PAD insiders believe, is "possible". They said things could become clearer after key PAD members meet this coming Tuesday.
On Hun Sen and Thaksin, Chavalit said the latter would be given a house in case he wanted to have a long stay in Cambodia.
Chavalit met Hun Sen during his one-day visit to Phnom Penh yesterday as a representative of Thaksin-backed Peu Thai Party.
As a long time friend, Prime Minister Hun Sen paid a lot of attention to fate of Thaksin, Chavait said.
Hun Sen has known Thaksin for long time since the latter was a normal businessman who invested in Cambodia.
"Prime Minister Hun Sen and his family are neither Thai nor relative of Thaksin but feel sympathy to him and want to declare that they are friend forever," Chavalit said.
"They have prepared a beautiful house for Thaksin and give him an honor as a friend," he said.
Asked if the Thai government was concerned over his visit to Phnom Penh, Chavalit said no government official called him to express such concern since he just went there to visit his friends and did not represent the government.
However Chavalit also discussed border conflict at the area near Preah Vihear temple with Hun Sen and praised Cambodia's stance to solve the problem with peaceful way.
The border conflict could be solved via bilateral mechanism of joint boundary commission, he said.
"We don't expect the issue could be solved within a few days, it could be 20 years but we should handle it with understanding and friendship," he said.
On the sea boundary, Chavalit said Cambodia has not yet granted concession to exploit oil and gas in the sea overlapping area to any foreign companies but is waiting for the Thai government to negotiate on the issue.