RCAF’s commander in chief, General Ke Kim Yan, said Monday that he hopes that last week’s second-ever meeting of a Cambodian-Thai border peacekeeping panel will be its last.
Ke Kim Yan logged the request with his Thai counterpart, General Mongkol Amporn-pisit, in Wednesday’s meeting of the Border Peacekeeping Com-mittee, saying that the three-and-a-half-year-old body’s duties have become redundant.
He said he asked that the peacekeeping committee’s responsibilities, overseen by the countries’ commanders in chief, be absorbed into the General Border Committee, a Defense Ministry-level cooperation body.
“I suggested in my proposal to Mr Mongkol to dissolve this military-level border committee and put it into a higher committee, so we have only one [body] to tackle the problem,” Ke Kim Yan said by telephone. “That’s good enough.”
The benefits, Ke Kim Yan added, included saving money in the nation’s nearly empty treasury. “If we keep [the committee], we will sap the country’s budget,” he said.
Previously, he said, it was politically simpler for the militaries posted along the border to settle the many problems that cropped up there, including smuggling, mass refugee movements and or occasional cross-border firefights.
“In the past, there was no complete peace along the border, so the military side could solve everything more easily” than the politicians, he said.
Hideouts along Cambodia and Thailand’s 798-km border were used for 20 years by Khmer Rouge units until December when the entire rank and file defected.
While Mongkol told The Bangkok Post last week that Ke Kim Yan’s request surprised him, Cambodia’s commander in chief said that Mongkol agreed with him.