LAST month Thai soldiers marched up to a border check point in Ta Tum close to Anlong
Veng, demanding that the Cambodians move their border two kilometers back. The demand
was only the latest in a series of border incidents on the Dangrek Mountain that
began in February this year.
Government soldiers in Anlong Veng contemplate the Thai language anti-malaria poster presented to them by Thai soldiers in a spirit of friendship following recent border disputes
However, from the years of civil war, the former Khmer Rouge commanders in Anlong
Veng have a long-standing relationship with their Thai counterparts, so the dispute
was eventually solved peacefully.
On July 7 local Thai and Cambodian officials met outside the old Ta Mok school in
Anlong Veng to plant a number of trees as a symbol of mutual friendship. And now,
Thai and Cambodian border guards jointly patrol the border - although only on the
Earlier this year Cambodian border patrols began encountering Thai soldiers when
they went on inspection rounds along the border that runs on top of the Dangrek escarpment.
Usually they were outnumbered by the Thais and withdrew from the area when ordered
to do so.
A border guard recently told the Post that on one occasion the Thais came all the
way up to a border checkpoint and moved the Cambodian flagpole a small distance back
Military officials in Anlong Veng and Siem Reap also acknowledged that there had
been problems along the Thai border. Former KR commander Yim Pim is now commander
of Division 23, one of four divisions stationed in Anlong Veng district. Division
23 constantly has about 150 men posted at three border outposts on the Dangrek ranges.
"There were some problems beginning in February and March, caused by the Thai
side. But it was not that serious. There was no fighting. It was only a war of words,"
Pim gives another example of recent border problems with the Thais. Thai troops painted
a number of trees - Pim says on Cambodian territory - in an attempt to mark a border
"We told them that we still don't know exactly where the border is, so we should
not paint the trees yet. In the end, the Thais agreed," Pim says.
In June, then, the demand came through to move the border two kilometers back.
"I think they just wanted to test us," says Nhem Sokheng who is district
commander for all four divisions in Anlong Veng.
Sokheng informed his superiors at Military Region 4 headquarters in Siem Reap. The
dispute was passed on to the joint Thai-Cambodian border commission.
Meanwhile, former KR commanders contacted their counterparts and old allies from
the civil war on the Thai side of the border.
"We tried to resolve the matter by meeting each other. Of course it helped that
we had a good relationship from before Anlong Veng was integrated. Now both sides
have agreed to wait until the border commission make a decision," says Yim Phanna,
former KR commander in Anlong Veng and now regional commander in Siem Reap.
According to Phanna, Thailand and Cambodia has agreed to send a joint delegation
to Anlong Veng in October to investigate the border area.
Up on the Dangrek escarpment itself, border patrols content that the problem has
been solved. At the border outpost in Choam, ten kilometers from Ta Tum, one patrol
commander, who preferred to remain anonymous, says the situation is now completely
On the wall behind the table where he and his soldiers play cards in the wet, chilly
air, hangs a big sign of the rekindled Thai-Cambodian friendship across the border:
A large plastic banner warning against the dangers of malaria and what to do if you
get sick - all written in Thai.
"It's a gift from the Thais," explains the commander. "Now we cooperate