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Govt denies Red Shirt presence

Ministers accuse Thais of ‘spreading baseless information’ on fugitives’ location.

THE Council of Ministers on Thursday vociferously denied a Thai news report that allegedly claimed Red Shirt leaders Arisman Phongruangrong and Suphorn Atthawong were hiding out in a casino in Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet town.

A statement from the council’s Press and Quick Reaction Unit also accused Thai officials and media outlets of repeatedly “spreading baseless information” that could threaten the health of bilateral relations, citing previous reports that have also drawn its ire.

“Once again, Cambodia earnestly requests the Thai Administration and media to put an end, once and for all, to such provocative attitude of spreading baseless information, which would mislead the national and international public opinion and unnecessarily put good bilateral relations between the two countries at risk,” the statement reads.

“Numerous false reports have been fabricated again and again by Thai Vicious Circle aimed at discrediting the Kingdom of Cambodia.”

Numerous false reports have been fabricated again and again.

The statement goes on to say that Cambodia embraces ahimsa, a principle of nonviolence rooted in Jainism, Hinduism and Buddhism.
“Cambodia believes in Truth and Ahimsa (non-violence) and strictly sticks to the principle of peaceful coexistence,” it reads.

“She bears no malice towards others and also believes that hatred breeds hatred, greed and violence would inevitably lead to one’s own ruin.”

The statement says the news report about Arisman and Suphorn aired on Thailand’s ASTV, a news station, and that it made “reference to an unverified information given by the Thai National Security Section”.

The ASTV report is compared to a report appearing in Thailand’s The Nation newspaper in late May that quoted the commander of a Thai army ranger company as saying that a group of Cambodian migrant labourers might have been trying to transport alleged “bombmaking materials” to Muslim insurgents in Thailand’s restive southern provinces.

Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said on May 31 that all of the migrant labourers had been cleared of wrongdoing, and that the materials in question were being toted in a cart by children who lived in the border region.

“Of late,” reads Thursday’s council statement, “within a period of less than one month, that is from 31 May 2010 to 16 June 2010, two false reports about the suppressed and disbanded red shirts have been fabricated against Cambodia.”

Tith Sothea, a member of the Press and Quick Reaction, said Thursday that the media reports “might worsen the relationship between Cambodia and Thailand, who are currently involved in a dispute along the border”.

Chawanon Intharakomansut, secretary to Thai foreign minister Kasit Piromya, could not be reached for comment on Thursday, nor could ministry spokesmen.

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