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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        30  June  2011

Thailand-Cambodia border dispute flares

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The Thai government has pushed aside a remark by by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen that it formally withdraw from the World Heritage Committee.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday said Cambodia should stop interfering in Thai affairs, after its leader Hun Sen stepped into the debate over the government's decision to leave the WHC.

Hun Sen has challenged the government to officially inform the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) if it was serious about withdrawing.

Political commentators have criticised the government for showboating over the issue to attract the support of voters allied to the People's Alliance for Democracy, who have campaigned for the government to withdraw from the WHC to safeguard Thai territory in the disputed border area.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti, who walked out of a WHC meeting in Paris last week, has been forced to defend his decision amid claims that it discredits the country internationally.

He said the government would discuss with UNESCO the effects of the WHC's decision not to consider Cambodia's management plan for Preah Vihear temple.

The matter concerned Thailand and Unesco only, Mr. Abhisit said. He insisted the government's decision to withdraw from the WHC was meant to protect Thai territory, and not done merely for domestic political advantage.

Thailand has yet to formally withdraw from the body, despite Mr Suwit's assertion from Paris last week that his withdrawal took immediate effect.

The government had campaigned against the WHC discussing Cambodia's management plan for the disputed Preah Vihear temple, and threatened to withdraw if the plan was put on the agenda.

Sources say the meeting was drafting a statement confirming that discussion of the plan would be postponed, which was in line with a decision reached at an earlier WHC meeting in May.

However, the Thai delegation took exception to the wording of the draft, so Mr Suwit walked out.

Campaigning in Samut Sakhon yesterday, Mr. Abhisit, who is also Democrat Party leader, said the public should decide whether to vote for the party that was "really" protecting the national interest in a way that might upset the leader of a neighboring country, or back the local party that was close to Hun Sen.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   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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