PAILIN - A caravan of 500 cars carried about 1,000 businessmen and Thai officials
to this gem-rich town May 10 to officially reopen border trade.
The governor of Thailand's Chantaburi province, who led the team of businessmen to
explore trade opportunities, said business should resume because the Khmer Rouge
guerrillas in this region had disbanded and merged with the Royal government.
"We organized this rally and caravan to Pailin to encourage the Thai businessmen
and investors that after they [KR]...merged with the government, Pailin is safe and
a good place to invest," said Amorn Anantachai.
"The relations between the two towns are more important than anything, so...I
promise to extend my full cooperation with the Thais for border trade or whatever,"
Ee Chhean, the governor of Pailin, told Reuters.
Pailin was for years the economic hub for the KR.
There are no official records of how much the KR used to earn from the cross-border
trade but a member of the Chantaburi Chamber of Commerce estimated the rebels made
at least one billion baht ($38.5 million) a month.
Pailin has boomed since the Khmer Rouge in this region gave up the fight and joined
the government last year, former rebels say.