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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Govt attacks Thai reports

Govt attacks Thai reports

THAILAND has attempted to sabotage foreign investment in Cambodia, the Cambodian government alleged in a statement on Monday.

Responding to reports that Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanyagorn said a daughter of Prime Minister Hun Sen is planning to acquire shares in Thai-owned Cambodia Air Traffic Services (CATS), the government accused the administration of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva of a “lack of political maturity”, rejecting the reports as false.

“This action ... seems to show clearly the intention of Abhisit’s government to use a private company as a tool of political exploitation and diplomatic boasting, and to discourage foreign investors who invest in Cambodia,” the statement read. Panitan told the Post on Sunday, however, that he had been misquoted.

Cambodia took control of CATS last week, banning nine Thai employees from carrying out their work, following the November 12 arrest of Thai employee Siwarak Chotipong. Siwarak is accused of passing the flight schedule of Thai former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to the Thai embassy during the fugitive billionaire’s visit to Cambodia.

CATS is to remain under Cambodian control until the conclusion of Siwarak’s trial, though the company’s long-term fate remains unclear.

“Following the court’s final decision, the Royal Government of Cambodia will take a position on the company’s management,” the statement said.

Thai Minister of Justice Pirapan Salirathavibhaga said a delegation was to arrive in Phnom Penh last night to assist Cambodian attorney Kao Soupha in preparing Siwarak’s defence.“We’re just observing at this moment how the Ministry can help Mr Siwarak based on legal matters,”
Pirapan said. The delegation will remain in Cambodia for one or two days only, as Thailand has not yet decided whether to send official observers to Siwarak’s trial.

Kao Soupha said he had filed a bail request for Siwarak on Monday. “The court has already finished its investigation, but a trial date has not yet been set,” he said.

Investigating Judge Chang Sinat said she had yet to receive the request, but added that she had concluded her investigation and forwarded it to the presiding judge.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SAM RITH

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