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Michael Hayes’ damaging misapprehension

Michael Hayes, in an article published on 17 February 2011 by The Phnom Penh Post under the title: “The view from Cambodia,” is not “a spin doctor for the government of Cambodia” as he mentioned about himself, but he is certainly a spin doctor for Thailand, when he suggested that: “As for the disputed 4.6 square kilometres just north of the temple, why not consider this:  Turn the area into the Cambodian-Thai International Friendship Park and set it up as a jointly managed enterprise by both countries’ Ministries of Tourism. Invite in hawkers, entrepreneurs, whatever, from both sides of the border to set up businesses to cater to the millions of tourists who will want to visit the site in the coming decades and beyond. Tax revenues could be shared by both nations equally. Everybody wins.”

No, not everybody wins. Michael Hayes loves to see Thailand win and Cambodia lose. Instead, Michael Hayes should suggest that Thailand must respect international treaties, of which Thailand (or Siam) was, is and will be the party to the treaties.

Siam (now Thailand) signed the Franco-Siamese Treaty of 13 February 1904 setting up a Mixed Commission composed of French Commission and Siamese Commission to delimit the frontier line between Cambodia (that was part of French Indochina) and Siam. In the area of the Temple of Preah Vihear, a map of the Dangrek sector known as “The Dangrek Map” among a set of 11 maps published under this treaty recognised and accepted by Siam, is the insoluble evidence that an international frontier line, stable and final, existed almost a century ago and continues to exist between Cambodia and Thailand. Being former publisher and editor-in-chief of The Phnom Penh Post, and under this circumstance writing and publishing on Cambodian affairs where all eyes may yet see Michael Hayes as an expert in the matter, I found it to be a shocking disappointment, despite a certain number of things interesting, good and fair that are actually presented in the article.

The International Court of Justice’s Judgment of 15 June 1962 is the reaffirmation that there is an international frontier line, stable and final between Cambodia and Thailand as evidenced by the Dangrek map known to be ANNEX I to Memorial of Cambodia or ANNEX I map.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand on the Survey and Demarcation of Land Boundary, actually known as MOU 2000, requires that the survey and demarcation shall be jointly conducted in accordance with:

  • The Convention between France and Siam modifying the stipulations of the Treaty of the 3 October 1893, regarding Territorial Boundaries and other Agreements, signed at Paris, 13 February 1904;
  • The Treaty between His Majesty the King of Siam and the President of the French Republic, signed at Bangkok, 23 March 1907, and the Protocol concerning the delimitation of boundaries and annexed to the Treaty of 23 March 1907;
  •  Maps which are the results of demarcation works of the Commissions of Delimitations of the Boundary between Indo-China and Siam set up under the Convention of 1904 and the Treaty of 1907 between France and Siam and other documents relating to the application of the above Convention and Treaty.

Based on the above international and legal documents, the “4.6 sq kms” exists only in the imagination and fabrication of Thailand, and the suggestion of Michael Hayes, as I quoted here above, is feeding quite well into the campaign of intoxication of the international public opinion conducted consistently and shamelessly by Thailand for the “joint management” of a Cambodian piece of property against Cambodian will. Naturally, Cambodia will develop the area of the Temple of Preah Vihear in conformity with UNESCO and the World Heritage standards. It is a slanderous suggestion aimed to spoil and to hurt the intelligence, kindness and good nature of the Cambodian people made by Michael Hayes, who thinks that “tax revenues” will blind the Cambodian leaders seeking to enrich themselves with Thailand investments. As the matter of fact, Michael Hayes’ article was picked up in its entirety by the Bangkok Post Online News on 20 February 2011 under the title: “The view from across the border”. Without getting into unfair accusations, it is fair to think that Michael Hayes has not yet cleansed himself of the grudges he had against Cambodia and the former Second Prime Minister, Samdech Techo Hun Sen.     

The point I wish to make here is that Michael Hayes, or anyone else, or anyone of the stature of former President of Singapore Lee Kwan Yew or former President Jimmy Carter of the United States of America, as suggested by Pinn Siraprapasiri in “Thailand and Cambodia need a ‘Jimmy Carter’ mediator”, published in The Nation on 18 February 2011, to be successful his or her job would be to convince Thailand to respect and to abide by the treaties of which Thailand is the party to those treaties.  

At Jakarta, on 22 February 2011, the business is very specific.

The members of the United Nations Social Security Council (UNSC) in a meeting on 14 February, following the plea of Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, about the gravity of the conditions created by Thailnd’s war of aggression against Cambodia, took note that (i) a war broke out, (ii) there are losses of lives and properties, (iii) tens of thousands of people face insecurity and uncertainty every day, and these calamities must be stopped, “urge the parties to establish a permanent ceasefire and to implement it fully,” and recommended that “the idea is to work in synergy with the regional efforts – and right now regional efforts are in full force – and resolve the situation peacefully and through effective dialogue.” It is for those reasons that foreign ministers of ASEAN will meet on 22 February at Jakarta under the chairmanship of the Foreign Minister of Indonesia, Marty Natalegwa.

Will we have a permanent ceasefire? Why not? Will the ceasefire be implemented fully? Why not? I bet on ASEAN’s astuteness, despite the fact that Thailand has a reputation of “a difficult child”.

Confusion and misapprehension will benefit Thailand to the detriment of Cambodia. Clarity will bring justice and equity to Cambodia. I intended that Michael Hayes be clear about the Cambodian affairs in relation to Thailand’s war of aggression in the following sequences: (i) establishment of a permanent ceasefire under UNSC’s recommendation, (ii) full implementation of the ceasefire under the UNSC’s recommendation, (iii) demarcation of the land boundary under MOU 2000.

Professor Pen Ngoeun,
Senior adviser and member of the Academic Committee, Puthisastra University, Phnom Penh, Cambodia,
Former Dean and Professor of the Faculty of Business and Economics, Pannasastra University of Cambodia,
Former Assistant Controller at Phibro Inc, a subsidiary of Citigroup Inc, New York City, USA, until 2000.

Send letters to: newsroom@phnompenhpost.com or PO?Box 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length.
The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.

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