Gov’t Calls Thai Nationalist a “Lunatic” on Preah Vihear Remarks

The Council of Ministers’ press and quick reaction unit on Friday called the leader of Thailand’s government-aligned People’s Alliance for Democracy a “raving lunatic” over his reported remarks about Cambodia’s proposed management plan for Preah Vihear temple.

Cambodia expects its plan to come up for discussion-and a possible vote-during the World Heritage Committee’s annual meeting, which began yesterday in Brazil.

Recent Thai news reports have carried statements from both the Thai prime minister and foreign affairs minister claiming Thailand would attempt to block the plan’s progress so long as a disputed 4.6 square km near the World Heritage Site remains unsettled.

The quick reaction unit issued a statement on Friday in response to comments PAD leader Sondhi Limthongkul allegedly made during a July 16 broadcast on ASTV, which Mr Sondhi founded.

The quick reaction unit has “found out that Mr Sondhi Limthongku[l] is becoming a raving lunatic, expert at disseminating innuendo, suggestion and speculation with his dark intention to distort the facts, mislead the public opinion, pitch the people against one and another, incite the Thai ordinary people to entertain enmity against Thailand’s neighbors, especially Cambodia,” the statement said.

A transcript of the broadcast was unavailable but according to the statement, Mr Sohdhi, himself a royalist, accused the Thai monarchy of ceding the territory and misinterpreted the 1904 Franco-Siamese Treaty which resulted in the boundary line accepted by the International Court of Justice in 1962 to grant the temple to Cambodia.

The government statement challenged Mr Sondhi to produce proof that Thailand legally possesses any supposedly ceded territory. “Thais cannot lose anything that does not belong to them in the first place,” it said.

Though declining to comment directly on Thai news reports, Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said yesterday that “any development of the area surrounding the temple should [wait] until the issues at the border are settled.”

“We don’t think a plan to develop the area will benefit the relationship of both countries,” he said by telephone from Bangkok.


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