THE Council of Ministers issued a swift rebuke to Thailand’s environment minister on Friday, after the official was quoted as saying that Cambodia’s UNESCO World Heritage application for Preah Vihear temple was incomplete.
According to Bangkok’s The Nation newspaper, Thailand’s minister of environment, Suwit Khunkitti, said Thursday that officials from UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee had informed him that because Cambodia has not yet submitted site-management plans, the status of the Preah Vihear application remains unfinished.
“The uncertainty on Preah Vihear Temple listing will be resolved pending on the Thai-Cambodian cooperation to demarcate the borders,” Suwit reportedly said. Cambodia and Thailand have been working bilaterally to demarcate their shared border under the auspices of the Joint Border Commission.
On Friday, the Council of Ministers said in a statement that Suwit was “completely wrong for not fully updating the legal process of both the World Heritage Centre and the World Heritage Committee”.
“We deeply regret that Minister Suwit had made this pretentious and misleading statement regarding the inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear with the purpose of poisoning the international community’s good will and cooperation, and tarnishing the positive image and good reputation of UNESCO and the World Heritage Committee,” the statement read.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said Sunday that Cambodia submitted its site-management plan for Preah Vihear temple on January 28.
“Cambodia has filed the plan to meet the deadline of the World Heritage Committee, but Thailand continues to lie and manipulate information about the issue of Preah Vihear temple and the surrounding border,” Phay Siphan said. “There is no area of uncertainty about the listing, and this inscription is undoubtedly irreversible.”
Teruo Jinnai, representative of UNESCO in Cambodia, said Sunday that he believed the Preah Vihear application was complete.
“We were informed by the government that they had submitted their documents,” he said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JAMES O’TOOLE