Sunday, October 25, 2009
Published on October 25, 2009
Cha-am - Thai protesters yesterday threatened to surround the Cambodian Embassy in Bangkok next month unless Prime Minister Hun Sen withdrew troops and removed Cambodian community from the disputed area adjacent to Preah Vihear.
Some 30 people led by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) made a brief protest at Puk Tien beach in ChaAm district, some 10km away from the Asean meeting venue in response to the harsh remarks by Hun Sen regarding fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra.
Thailand and Cambodia have been at loggerheads over the disputed area near the Hindu temple of Preah Vihear for a long time but the issue heated up a year ago when it was listed as a World Heritage Site.
The issue of Thaksin added fuel to the conflict when Hun Sen said he would make the fugitive expremier his economic adviser and would not extradite him to Thailand. Such remarks have heightened tensions with the Thai government which is seeking to apprehend Thaksin, who has been sentenced to two years' prison sentence in a corruption case.
The protesters handed over their letter of demands to the Foreign Ministry's DirectorGeneral of Asean Affairs Vitavas Srivihok demanding the troop withdrawal and removal of the Cambodian community from the area within a week.
They condemned Hun Sen's recent remarks and wanted the Cambodian premier to leave Thailand immediately as he was not attending the Asean Summit in a spirit of goodwill.
Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said his government had allowed the protesters to exercise their freedom of expression in accordance with democratic principles. The government would take their demands into consideration and would convey them to the neighbouring country if necessary, he said.
The Thai government would not allow one incident to jeopardise relations between the two countries, which have a lot of areas of mutual interest, he said. Kasit said the government would deal with Hun Sen in a cool manner.
"We have been together with Samdech Hun Sen the whole day in the [Asean] meeting. I think he did participate in every session [of the Asean meeting] in a very constructive manner," Kasit said.
Prime Minister Hun Sen even supported Thailand's intention to be a temporary unit of surveillance of the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation (CMIM), Kasit said.
Regarding the Thaksin issue, Kasit maintained his hope that Hun Sen would be able to distinguish personal affairs from the mutual interests of the two countries.
"I don't know whether Prime Minister Hun Sen has invited Thaksin to visit Cambodia after he has served his jail term in Thailand or not," he said.
If Thaksin were to be in Cambodia before serving his sentence, the government would seek his extradition in accordance with the bilateral treaty, Kasit said.