Thailand and Cambodia

There appears to have been no more fighting on the Thai-Cambodian border overnight – both sides have taken some small steps towards achieving confidence-building measures, through joint patrols and some continued negotiations. On the other hand, reinforcements still appear to be entering the area and it is far from clear that there will not be more and more intense fighting. It is unfortunate indeed that Thai Army Chief General Anupong Paojinda has chosen this moment to start politicking by undermining the democratically-elected government and, so it is becoming widely thought, planning yet another military coup (which, in a financial crisis, would be a disaster beyond imagining).

Relations between Thailand and Cambodia have never been very warm: this article by Charnvit Kasetsiri, a leading historian, entitled Thailand-Cambodia: A Love Hate Relationship is helpful in understanding the background.

Cambodians remember the Thai attitude during the Khmer Rouge period, when asylum seekers were forced back across the border, many shot and killed and many other acts of barbarity conducted – the Thai view of events is of course different.

Relationships are not helped by hare-brained ideas in Thailand to promote even more ignorant nationalism among schoolchildren by using textbooks which, among other monstrosities, portray Cambodian people as inherently untrustworthy. I know that if I ask my students to name a Cambodian person or celebrity or even one or two words of the Cambodian language they will be unable to do so.

Let’s see if the situation remains stable throughout the day.

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JW has been one of the first contributors to this blog before he gave up on it all in April 2010, during a time when Thai society got more and more polarized about political matters because of red-shirt protesters.

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