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Temple tensions

Dear Editor,

I am incensed that after 46 years of silence, now Thailand is protesting against Cambodia for the use of the French-Siamese Commission map made in 1907 that recognizes the demarcation of Cambodia’s frontier.

Why, after all these years, is Thailand objecting to Cambodia’s use of the joined commission map agreed by both France and Siam in 1907? This map was used at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague on June 15, 1962.

As history has recorded, the ICJ sided with Cambodia and recognized that Preah Vihear was located within Cambodia. Thailand had accepted the ICJ decision.

The affair of Preah Vihear has flared up again because of Cambodia’s application to UNESCO to include the temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List.

The initial Thai government reaction was swift and negative. They tried to block Cambodia’s application.  Finally, due to pressure from Thai academicians and diplomats all over the world, the Thai government relented and no longer opposed Cambodia’s application.

However, as cunning as ever, Thailand threw a wrench into the gears to stop everything in motion. Thailand says that she does recognize Preah Vihear belonging to Cambodia but not the demarcation of the frontier that she agreed by the ICJ in 1962. Thailand insisted on using her own map that had never been recognized by the ICJ.

UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee will meet on July 2, 2008 in Quebec. One of the subjects of discussion will be on the temple of Preah Vihear.

Thailand knows full well that this meeting is very important for Cambodia. She knows that UNESCO needs cooperation from Thailand before it can record the temple of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site.

Thailand really knows how to play this game. Cambodia should not fall into Thailand’s blackmail and should hold her accountable to the court of international laws.

It is time that Thailand stops bullying Cambodia and acting as if the latter is still her vassal state.

As for Cambodia, it is time for her to develop and complete the road to Preah Vihear that ex-Phnom Penh governor Chea Sophara had started.

Kenneth T. So

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