What a show! Peace talks between the Thai and Cambodian military leaders over temple row เล่นละครหลอกคนดู เจรจาทางการทหารกรณีเขาพระวิหาร

22 07 2008
Cambodian Defence Minister General Tea Banh and Thai Supreme Commander General Boonsrang Niempradit at the Press Conference after their bilateral talks on 21 July

Cambodian Defence Minister General Tea Banh and Thai Supreme Commander General Boonsrang Niempradit at the Press Conference after their bilateral talks on 21 July

And as can be expected, the supposed to be a bilateral talk between Thailand Supreme Command Gen Boonsrang Niempradit and Cambodia Defence Minister Teah Banh ended with status quo: no immediate military withdrawal from the border on both sides and no immediate end to the legal status or negotiation on the 4.6 km overlapping zone. However, there has been suggested that ASEAN could facilitate the negotiation on the issue later.

Ending with status quo and no military withdrawal from the boder

Ending with status quo and no military withdrawal from the boder

Since both sides did not expect any concrete result on the temple row to come out of the discussion, why did they set up the bilateral talks in the first place? Was it just to show the government’s commitment and seriousness on the issue? Samak government is facing not only severe political setback but also is being challenged by two main opponents the political activist PAD and the opposition Democrat Party. Hun Sen ‘s Cambodia People Party is campaigning for an upcoming election on Sunday 27 July. Although CPP is surely to regain its victory, Hun Sen can never lose face on this issue. The sovereignty over the Hindu temple called Preah Vihear is a very sensitive issue. Losing it will lessen his credibility in the public eyes. Internal politics play a significant role in this bilateral conflict on the regional level.


ASEAN may be asked to facilitate the negotiation on the legal status and the overlapping zone of the 4.6 km but even with their good facilitation skill I doubt if they could do much. At best, they can have the two parties to sit together and discuss but no permanent and long term solution can result from it.

Perhaps the best solution for the two parties involved is to keep the status quo. The Thais can not dispute the legal status of the temple as it was ruled by the International Court of Justice since 1962 and the ruling should be final. Just forget the past and walk on. As a Thai, we may not agree with the court decision, but still we have to accept it.


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