Cambodian Soldiers in Preah Vihear

Remember what Cambodia’s Foreign Ministry said?

“There has never been and there will never be Cambodian soldiers at the temple of Preah Vihear. This has always been a place for worship and tourism”

Well, that might not have been the most accurate statement their FM has ever released.

Associated Press journalists who visited the temple Wednesday found hundreds of Cambodian soldiers deployed in and around the sprawling temple compound, which was fortified by sandbagged bunkers.

Source: Cambodia troops bunkered at cliff-top Khmer temple

Alternative Suggestions to Handle Thai-Cambodian Conflict

Suranand Vejjajiva wrote an op-ed in which he pointed out that some of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s moves regarding our relationship with Cambodia might not have been the best choices.

Are we willing to throw some 30 years of relationship building with a neighbouring country like Cambodia down the drain just to catch one man? And that is just in modern times. For centuries, Thai and Khmer culture has been closely related and share many heritages. Local communities around the border areas speak the same language. Border demarcation lines are imaginary to them as they cross daily to trade and mingle.

He also criticized the recall of Thailand’s ambassador from Cambodia last year, and points out the negative effects this now has.

The price paid is that it closed down high level communications channel and valuable insights and intelligence. Diplomacy has been left to politicians and the military, creating a weakness in our strategic positioning on wide ranging issues including trade and investment. All of which constitute building blocks of a peaceful coexistence and leverage in times of need.

He concludes by writing:

It is the same for us Thais as the actual use of force will lead the country down a troubled road and a “lose-lose” situation for both sides.

Wealth, however, can be created and shared though cooperation and friendship. If viewed in this aspect, the government has to start picking up the pieces of building blocks it has disregarded and work towards rebuilding the damaged relationship. Only as friends can fights be avoided.

State of Emergency in Bangkok Extended & PAD On The Streets Again

Today, two major things happened in Bangkok.

One was that Thailand’s prime minister Abhisit announced that the emergency decree is going to stay in place, because of the bombing on the weekend that killed one and injured ten. (According to a Suan Dusit poll, this decision is backed by large parts of the Bangkok population – but keep in mind polls not always are an accurate reflection of reality).

Second, the (yellow-shirt) PAD protesters went out on the street again, even though this time many did not wear yellow shirts. This time not to fight Thaksin or the red-shirts, but to protest against “losing a part of Thailand”. It’s an old conflict between Cambodia and Thailand about a small piece of land on which an old temple called Preah Vihear stands

Did the Cambodian Army Really Kill 88 Thai Soldiers?

Is it really possible that Cambodian troops have killed 88 of their Thai counterparts over the past couple of years? The alleged deaths have taken place near to the Preah Vihear temple complex in Cambodia, whose ownership is contested by the fascist PAD movement and some other extremists.

According to General Chea Tara, 38 Thai soldiers were killed in October 2008 and another 50 in April 2009. At the same time, only two Cambodian troops were killed.

Can this be true? Well, first of all I would not want to argue with any Cambodian troops – they may not always be highly educated and equipped and so forth but they come from a modern history of incredible violence and death.

Secondly, the Thai military and aristocracy-establishment certainly seems capable of hiding deaths for which it is responsible – consider the mysteriously disappearing containers of human remains found off the coast a few months ago.

What does seem unlikely is that 88 Thais could have died while only two Cambodians were killed. If the general had said there were these large numbers of casualties on both sides, it would appear more likely to me. Then again, what do I know about anything?

Black Magic Woman

Fiendish Khmer wizards have been meeting at Preah Vihear during the solar eclipse to cast black magic spells at the poor Thai people – well, of course the Khmers have a reputation for doing that – monks too. Fortunately, the good citizens of Si Sa Ket are ready to protect us all by donning yellow to resist the vile magic.

The wife of Cambodian PM Hun Sen, M. Bun Rany has been identified as the leader of this occult war and has ‘called upon ancestral spirits’ in a new supernatural offensive. It is not reported whether the spirits replied or what, if anything, they thought about all of this.

Here is what the Bangkok Post has to say about the event: “Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s wife Bun Rany yesterday hosted a huge ritual at the Preah Vihear temple to bless the country with good luck and to give it power against the backdrop of a dispute with Thailand over the area surrounding the temple.

The ceremony, chosen to coincide with a solar eclipse yesterday, was attended by about 1,000 people, including high-ranking officials, priests and experts in rituals. The ritual started at 9.30am.”

This is all going to end badly, isn’t it? The blood will be on the hands of ringleaders of the anti-democracy movement who have deliberately stirred up nationalist sentiment for their own grubby purposes. Shame on them and the useful idiots who protest with them.

Inflation rose to 9.2% in July, the highest rate for ten years. High oil prices are identified as the principal cause, although the annual rate remains apparently at the projected rate of 6.6%. Things do not seem likely to get better for the foreseeable future, either on the economic or political fronts.

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.