Preah Vihear Governor To Ban Thai Vendors

Preah Vihear provincial Gov­ernor Preap Tan said last week he plans to oust Thai vendors from market stalls at the foot of Preah Vihear temple on the Cam­bodian side of the border.

Thai vendors at the temple will be removed because they al­legedly lack the legal documentation they need to stay in Cam­bo­dia, Preap Tan said Thursday.

“Thai visitors can come in one day and return. They completely can­not have an overnight stay,” Preap Tan said. “It is not an international gate. They cannot obtain a visa.”

Phnom Penh municipal officials who frequently visit the temple to hand out food said last week that at least five Thai vendors operate food stalls in the market.

“It’s really dangerous to let Thai vendors own a store on the Khmer soil,” a Phnom Penh official warned on condition of ano­nym­ity. “That market is disputed. The Thais claim it belongs to them.”

Relations between residents and vendors near the temple have been strained since the Thai government closed the border in December 2001, claiming that Cam­bodians were polluting a stream running across the border.

Cambodian vendors have complained to visiting Phnom Penh officials that they sell little be­cause the thousands of Thai tourists visiting the temple purchase goods from Thai vendors.

The governor said he will conduct an investigation before banning the Thai sellers.

“I will in­spect into this matter and I will tell them to go back home,” Preap Tan said. “There is no condition to allow a Thai to stay here.”

Thai Embassy spokesman Boonyarith Kalayanamit declined to comment on Tuesday.

On Saturday Cambodian border police stopped Thai soldiers from building a ticket booth near the Preah Vihear temple. Preah Vihear Deputy Governor Bun Sovann said the construction was prohibited because the stall would lie within the white zone, a neutral area on either side of the border that neither country can develop without mutual consent.

The Bangkok Post reported Sunday that 30 armed Cambo­dian soldiers and 40 Thai rangers confronted each other over the booth, located 20 meters from the temple.


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