Prime Minister Hun Sen in a strongly worded address Wednesday said he had every right to comment on the ongoing political crisis in Thailand because it was affecting Cambodian sovereignty.
Thai media Monday published a story in which Hun Sen was misquoted as saying that Thailand should hand over the chairmanship of Asean to either Singapore or Vietnam because of its internal situation.
The Cambodian government quickly moved to point out that the comment as reported was inaccurate.
Speaking at the National Institute of Education on Wednesday, Hun Sen reiterated that he had merely expressed concern that the political situation in Bangkok might make it difficult for Thailand to host the Asean summit in December.
Though Asean countries, as a rule, do not interfere with the internal concerns of member nations, Hun Sen said he was well within his rights to comment on the situation in Bangkok.
“Why not allow me to talk?” Hun Sen asked.
“The [Thai] opposition is using Preah Vihear to topple the [Thai] government. They use demonstrators at Preah Vihear temple. Can Cambodia and the prime minister Cambodia and the prime minister stay calm without making comment in front of this aggressive invasion?”
“Without the invasion of the Preah Vihear disputed area and the continuous invasion, whatever the Thai situation may be Cambodia does not care, but the Thai crisis affects Cambodian territorial sovereignty,” Hun Sen said.
The premier added that he had even greater reason to comment on internal wrangling in Thailand because the problems in Bangkok were delaying the talks between Cambodia and Thailand to resolve the border disputes.
“The Thai crisis has led to the continuation of the presence of invasive soldiers. Furthermore, they have created chaotic situations in Ta Moan and Ta Krabey temples,” Hun Sen said.
“If the troops pull out from Cambodian territory, we won’t talk [about Thailand].”
Hun Sen added that he has asked Foreign Minister Hor Namhong if there was any way to continue the talks in the current environment, but said he was told that there are no available channels at present.
“I hope that the [Thai] prime minister elections will be a success in order to continue the talks,” Hun Sen said.
“We have an understanding of the Thais’ difficulties, but the Thai side must not use our patience to spread its abuse from one area to another area. I wonder who ordered the soldiers; are they bandits?”
The prime minister also appealed to the Thai government to quickly resume negotiations as soon as a new prime minister is confirmed. But if such talks fail or don’t come to pass, Cambodia will take the issue to the International Court of Justice at The Hague, he said.
“I want to narrow down the conflict and try to resolve [it],” Hun Sen added.
“We are sad that while we are trying to narrow the conflict, the Thai side is spreading the conflict.”
Thai Embassy First Secretary Chaturont Chaiyakam said he could not comment because he had not heard Hun Sen’s remarks.
He added that there was no new information as to when bilateral negotiations—indefinitely postponed by the Thai military in late August—might begin again.
The Thai Embassy on Wednesday did however send out a detailed explanation of how Thailand was fully capable of hosting the December Asean summit.