In War of Words, Hun Sen Calls for Clear Remarks

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday lashed out at those who misinterpret his words-a reference to Thai Premier Abhisit Vejjajiva-and instructed a public relations division at the Council of Ministers to translate a speech he made at Preah Vihear temple this weekend and send it to Mr Abhisit in order to set the record straight.

“I order the Council of Ministers Quick Reaction Unit to make a good tape of my speech-even when I coughed, put it: ‘Cough,'” he said. “Make a tape, play my entire speech, and translate it into English.”

“If you don’t get all my speech to the World Heritage Committee, you are not a human being…. Make a good tape, and translate it into English, and send it to Abhisit.”

The premier was referring to Mr Abhisit’s threat to complain to Unesco’s World Heritage Committee -which meets this year to assess Cambodia’s administrative plan for the temple -that the area around Preah Vihear temple is Thai territory.

“The Thai government will use Prime Minister Hun Sen’s comment to explain to the World Heritage Committee that the area around Preah Vihear temple clearly belongs to Thailand,” Mr Abhisit was quoted Sunday by the Bangkok Post as saying.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said that it is not unusual for the Press and Quick Reaction Unit to be tasked with translation.

“We do this kind of job regularly, this is just a highlight to remind us to do it promptly,” he said. “It’s an order from the prime minister-who would dare not to do it?”

Mr Siphan went on to lambaste the Thai premier, comparing his intelligence unfavorably to that of a Cambodian peasant.

“Even Cambodian farmers, they understand very well that Unesco does not make judgment on anything other than cultural matters,” he said. “Would you check with a Cambodian farmer? They understand…. It’s stupid, using Unesco to make a judgment about the temple of Preah Vihear, and it’s sad for Thai people to have a premier like that.”

The Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also published a statement attacking the Bangkok Post’s coverage of Mr Hun Sen’s border visit, calling the newspaper “perfidious.”


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