Cambodian provincial officials on Thursday denied allegations made in the Bangkok Post on Wednesday that Cambodian vendors had encroached on Thai territory. The newspaper reported that local villagers in Kantharalak district in the Thai province of Si Sa Ket accused Cambodian vendors at the Preah Vihear temple of “encroaching” on a strip of land in Thai territory.
“Our villagers have never encroached on Thai soil,” said Preah Vihear Governor Preap Tann. Second Deputy Governor Long Sovann added that the Cambodian vendors were settled in Preah Vihear province, clearly within the bounds of Cambodia.
But Si Sa Ket Governor Sawat Sisuwandee said that the vendors definitely had encroached upon Thai territory, according to the Post. No action could be taken against the alleged encroachers, however, because the areas were under military jurisdiction, he said.
The 12th-century mountaintop temple, which sits just inside the Cambodian border, has been an issue of contention between the Cambodian and Thai governments for years. The Thai government closed the border in December 2001, blocking Cambodia-bound tourists.
Thailand said the border was closed because the Cambodian market at the temple’s base was polluting a stream that crosses the border. Others said it was closed over a ticket-sales dispute.
Boonmee Buaton, chairman of an organization representing Kantharalak district villagers, said Cambodian workers were accused of encroaching on a Thai area earlier this year.
Boonmee told the Post that a petition would be filed with provincial authorities asking them to take action against the encroachment.