THE Ambassador for Thailand has released details of the land transaction for the
site of Thailand's new embassy in Phnom Penh.
The Embassy became embroiled in a dispute with a neighboring village when it closed
an access road for the village which the embassy said ran across its land.
The villagers protested against the closure on Friday, June 2, and a bloody battle
erupted between them, police, and hired thugs who appeared to be acting on behalf
of the authorities.
George Cooper from Legal Aid Cambodia, who has been working with villagers, said
the Embassy had no right to own land in Cambodia because the constitution banned
the sale of land to foreign entities.
He said Legal Aid Cambodia would be pursuing the matter through the courts.
However Ambassador Asiphol Chabchigrchaidol rejected the claims that the embassy
had no right to land, saying the current site was obtained in 1992 through two separate
He said the first part of the embassy compound was bought from 64 families living
there for $450,000. He said the land title number was 194. The second half of the
compound was Government land that was gifted to them by the Cambodian Government
as part of a reciprocal deal in which the Thai Government gave land to Cambodians
for their embassy. He said such reciprocal arrangements were standard practice for
diplomatic missions and were entirely proper.
The Ambassador said the land was properly surveyed in 1993 in accordance with the
law and a temporary land permit was issued to the Embassy.
Then in 1996 the Council of Ministers gave permission for the Embassy to begin building
on the site.
He said they kept the road open even though they were not obliged to but once they
moved the chancellery in, they wanted to close the road for security and to enable
construction within the embassy to be completed.
He said that given the solid legal footing they had, the matter was one to be resolved
by the Cambodian authorities.