Who Is Tej Bunnag?

A new foreign minister has been appointed – just in time to pursue yet more discussions concerning the Preah Vihear temple. He is Tej Bunnag, a well-known figure hereabouts. According to the radio, his first name is pronounced like Tet with the concluding t unvoiced, i.e. not a tuh sound. His surname has both ns pronounced – Bun-nag.

Looking at his biography, he was born in 1943 and is married to Mrs Phensri Bunnag. He was educated in Britain, which must be a good thing of course, going to school at Malvern College and taking his undergraduate degree at Cambridge before coming to his senses and moving to Oxford for his D.Phil. He seems to have spent his career in the Foreign Ministry and has been Ambassador to, among others, China, North Korea, France and the USA, as well as permanent representative at UNESCO. In 1992 he was made Knight Grand Cordon (Special Class) of the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant; in 1997 Grand Companion (Third Class, higher grade) of the Most Illustrious Order of Chula Chom Klao and in 2001 Knight Commander (Second Class, lower grade) of the Most Illustrious Order of Chula Chom Klao.

He retired from the Ministry and is seen as a ‘professional choice’ to replace Noppadon Pattama, who was obliged to resign to fight lese-majeste charges based on a speech he made at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in the wake of the most recent military coup.

Well, we will see what sort of a fist he makes of things. He has left this morning for Siem Reap, after having been sworn in by HM the King yesterday and meeting with various officials. It is being anticipated that, fresh from his convincing election victory yesterday, Hun Sen and his government will be a little less inflexible in their approach. Former Khmer Rouge fighters are ready to take up arms against the foreign aggressor, according to this article, even those with just the one leg. The whole affair has been used by the leaders of the anti-democracy movement PAD to stir up nationalist sentiment and if violence does break out it will be more blood on the hands of Chamrong Srimuang and Sondhi Limthongkul.