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Asean Affairs  14  February 2011

Spies in Thailand

By  David Swartzentruber

AseanAffairs     14 February 2011

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Today in New York City the Thai and Cambodian foreign ministers and Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa will speak before the UN Security Council on the recent border conflicts between Thailand and Cambodia.

The hope is that out of the meeting a negotiation platform can emerge that will enable further discussions to bring the conflict to an end. Thailand wants bilateral talks while Cambodia wants a third party mediator.

The dispute centers around an 11th century Hindu temple called Preah Vihear that was designated as a World Heritage site by the UN agency, UNESCO. Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva maintains that this designation of the temple is part of the problem.

Meanwhile, Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, who is in charge of national security, advised Thai citizens that they should not view all Cambodian workers as suspected spies. A large number of workers from the surrounding countries of Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar work in Thailand, especially in the construction field. He also added that he had not received any reports of Cambodian spies being detected.

The whole issue seems like a small issue on the world stage, witness the recent events in Egypt. However, nationalism can be a powerful drug in any country, often producing results that escalate beyond the original disagreement.

This is the case with the Preah Vihear issue, which seems to be fueled by overt nationalism in both Cambodia and Thailand, compounded by an inexact border between the two countries.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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