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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Only losers in Thai standoff

Only losers in Thai standoff

To say that the political situation has been very tense following the

unjustified attacks on the Thai Embassy and Thai-owned businesses on the 29th of

January is an understatement.

The coming elections are already leaving in their wake a trail of murder and intimidation,

including the assassination of MP Om Radsady, and this incident has just served to

create further instability and unrest.

One might expect that any responsible government would develop a clear policy to

improve relationships with its neighbouring countries - but not this government.

On the contrary the government's recent decision to seal all land border crossings

with Thailand has shown both immaturity and irresponsibility on the part of the current

leadership in Cambodia.

The government, after years of being in power and in the international arena, should

surely be better qualified to deal with such a minor incident than to take it out

of context and turn our people from a gentle Buddhist nation into an angry mob who,

without any moral fibre, attacks its neighbours - the same neighbours who have given

it refuge in times of need.

Instead of being irrational the government should be patient and bear the criticisms

of its actions, which clearly in the eyes of all were totally unjustified and unacceptable.

As a poor nation, which is located between well-populated and more developed countries,

we need external stability to help rebuild and develop our nation.

If there are issues between us and our neighbours we should resort to a third party

or to the International Court to resolve them.

The world has changed and we should heed that change. Before, Cambodia wrongly relied

on its Communist allies, such as China, as counterweight against our neighbours.

This was our downfall and eventually led to the Khmer Rouge "killing fields"

and, in 1979, the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia. We cannot afford to make the same

mistakes again.

And so we should end our antagonism against our neighbour before it is too late.

Friendship and diplomacy will have more influence on them.

The attack on the Thai embassy and Thai-owned business and the closure of the border

are all simply a testimony to Cambodia's lack of Rule of Law. And it is childish.

Thailand will continue to cause us grief because they are in a stronger position

to react to our provocation and we will find ourselves facing more difficulties:

insecurity in the border regions; continued disagreement over maritime border issues;

the unfair exploitation of our gas or oil; even the possible blocking by Thailand

of our application for WTO membership.

And the winner? There is no winner in such a situation. Both Thailand and Cambodia

will lose, it is just that Cambodia has already lost so much in the past and cannot

afford to lose any more if there is going to be any possibility of a good future

for us.

- Son Chhay - Member of Parliament

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