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Thais vow to play their part

Thais vow to play their part

T HE Thai military has officially stated it will rigidly enforce an international

agreement banning the transportation of logs from Cambodia.

A spokesman

also tried to dispell the military's international reputation as a major player

in the illicit logging trade, saying they should be seen as honest brokers.

Other officers counter attacked with charges of hypocrisy and said the Royal

Government was in on the trade.

The ban went into force at midnight on

March 31. "No logs will be allowed out of Cambodia after 12 tonight," said the

military spokesman who declined to be named.

Phnom Penh-based reporters

were taken to a border crossing point on the eve of the ban being re-imposed as

the Thai military sought to repair its badly stained image.

The

journalists passed two truckloads of logs on their way into Thailand with three

more waiting at the checkpoint at An Seh near the junction of Thailand, Laos and

Cambodia.

"About 30 truck loads of logs have come out of Cambodia in the

last two days," the Thai military spokesman said.

"We will enforce the

ban from our side. If any companies want to bring logs out of Cambodia after the

31st, they will have to request an exemption from the Thai

government."

The military spokesman conceded that some exemptions might

be granted.

The Thai government has been under great pressure from the

international community over the role of the military on the border. The army is

seen as playing a bridging role between Thai businessmen and the Khmer Rouge as

well as collecting bribes for turning a blind eye to illegal border

trade.

But speaking privately, several senior officers said the

international community was unfairly picking on the Thai military.

One

said:"The world is accusing the Thai military of helping the Khmer Rouge, but

there is no publicity about the effect of the temporary lifting of the logging

ban. It has put money into Khmer Rouge hands.

"The Royal Government

fights them and negotiates agreements that allow them to get money. That is

hypocrisy.

"The Royal Government negotiated an agreement with the Thai

government on how many cubic metres of logs, what companies, and what crossing

points.

"Some of these logs are coming out of Khmer Rouge territory.

Money goes into the hands of the Cambodia government and money goes into the

hands of the Khmer Rouge," he said.

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