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Asean Affairs  22  February 2011

Cambodian-Thai border dispute heads to Indonesia

By  David Swartzentruber

AseanAffairs     22 February 2011

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Since Asean started in August 1967, while negligent in many areas, the one area where Asean has been effective is that no member-state has gone to war with another.

Although there has have been threats of war among its members, these were eventually defused, preserving Asean’s status as a bastion of peace. To its credit, none of the group’s original founding members — Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines — have gone to war with each other, despite tense relations at times. However, the recent cross-border shelling between Cambodian and Thai forces threatens to upset the peace.

Both countries have claimed ownership of the 11th century Preah Vihear Hindu temple, which was awarded to Cambodia by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 1962, unfinished business surrounding the temple complex remained to contribute to the current tensions. The latest military confrontation broke out following the July 2008 decision by UNESCO to accord the temple the status of World Heritage Site. Thailand viewed it as a provocation, unleashing Thai nationalist outbursts.

Today in Jakarta, Asean chairman and Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa hosts an informal meeting of some of the Asean foreign ministers to move toward a peaceful resolution of the standoff. Mr. Marty has been in constant contact with the two foreign ministers Hor Namhong of Cambodia and Kasit Piromya of Thailand and was aware of their views.

As the talks begin, the Indonesia Foreign Minister remains optimistic that progress can be made and says he is already looking past today’s meeting.

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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