Thai minister’s statement that a Cambodian-built road near P Vihear is on Thai soil elicits swift response from govt Council.
THE Council of Ministers has issued a statement rejecting comments made by Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban suggesting that the road to Preah Vihear temple is not on Cambodian soil.
“The roads were built by the previous [Cambodian] government, but it does not mean that the land belongs to Cambodia,” the Thai official was quoted as saying in an interview with the Bangkok Post last Thursday.
Cambodia’s Council of Ministers responded by issuing a statement on Friday reiterating the Kingdom’s ownership of the territory. “This road is not a joint road between Cambodia and Thailand because it is entirely located in Cambodian territory,” it said.
Lieutenant Colonel Bun Vanna, deputy chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Brigade 8, which is based near Preah Vihear temple, agreed the 3.6km road was located entirely in Cambodia. He said maps used by Thai officials to justify the claim that the road was in disputed territory were not internationally recognised.
This road is not a joint road between cambodia and thailand...
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said Sunday that the construction of the road to the temple was financed by Cambodia and first constructed in 2003 with funding from the Bayon Foundation. It was paved in 2008 to allow better access for visitors.
“The comment made by Suthep [Thaugsuban] shows a lack of consideration, and it will not get the support of the Thai government and the people,” he said.
Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, could not be reached for comment on Sunday.
Suthep’s remarks come days before a government television segment about the border dispute is scheduled to air upon Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya’s return from the UN general assembly in New York. Suthep said it would be a response to accusations from the National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship that the government has not acted forcefully enough in the dispute over land near Preah Vihear temple.
Cambodia and Thailand have never fully demarcated their 805km shared border. Shortly after the inscription of Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site in July 2008, Thai troops were accused of invading Cambodian land near the temple, sparking the largest buildup of troops and military equipment along the border in years.
In April 2009, more than 319 families were left homeless when a market at the foot of Preah Vihear temple was destroyed during fighting that razed 264 stalls. The government demanded US$2.1 million in compensation from Thailand, but has yet to receive an official response.