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Win-win possible at Preah Vihear

Dear Editor,

It is most unfortunate that Thailand is making deeper incursions into Cambodian (Khmer) territory following the UNESCO World Heritage Site designation of Preah Vihear temple.

The reported additional incursion (and immediate denial by the Royal Thai Government) into Ta Moan Thom temple by Thai armed forces only adds additional fuel to the already raging inferno of nationalistic pride – in both countries.

Was it really pride or prejudice?

Either way, this silliness will only lead to even more tension, if not bloodshed, between the two neighbours, which have been enjoying a rather cosy relationship since the 2003 fiasco.

A “lesson” never learned is really a “mistake”.  It is sad because it need not be this way.

Needless to say, much of the present-day land where Thai people now stand (aka Thailand) was once Khmer territory – simply annexed by way of invasion (aka robbed and stolen and other politically incorrect terms) by Thailand. It is never enough for Thai folks. They wanted and needed more, now that the Khmer have been weakened by internal strife.

Now it is this new incursion into Khmer territory (onto legally binding and recognised Khmer land) yet again by Thailand.  How much more will be enough for Thailand? Of course, it is never enough for greedy folks.

There is a Khmer prophecy that stated: “Bangkok rolom, Phnom Penh roleiy, Saigon kjat Kjai, Sabay Angkor Wat (in Cambodia not Thailand).”

It is an old saying that has been repeated for generations.

Today, Saigon is already Kjat Kjai, or broken apart, Phnom Penh already roleiy, or melted (now being rebuilt – with Korean and Thai money, mostly), and Angkor Wat is already sabay, or happy with some 1.1 million tourists and growing as of June 2008.

The only thing missing thus far is this: “Bangkok Rolom, or fallen”.  Perhaps this latest temple row might just do the trick and fulfill the old saying – who knows?

At any rate, there is no need for armed confrontation or conflict, which neither side will win.

Besides, Thai soldiers don’t really have the stomach for a real fight with the Khmer even with all of their fancy weaponry.

Perhaps economic cooperation between the two countries is a better way to go, as both will greatly benefit from tourism development in this poor and remote area.  Yes, I am merely suggesting Thailand’s money (and ingenuity) and Khmer temples.  It would be a win-win situation, the smarter way to go. 

Besides, both Thailand and Cambodia will eventually share a common union, like the United States and the European Union.  Yes, a deeper and more meaningful Asean ... where common money and people flow freely throughout the region, where everyone prospers under one roof.  That day is coming and so this immature act by Thailand’s military along the two neighbours’ common border will look rather silly.

Do send the soldiers back home to their respective families and warm beds before it is too late; that’s [advice] for both sides.  Do leave the silliness of politics to silly folks in Bangkok and Phnom Penh – that is my suggestion.

Ronnie Yimsut

Oregon, United States

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