Professor’s Remark Spurs Calls for Apology

Phnom Penh residents said  Mon­day the Thai government should publicly apologize to Cam­bodia, following media reports that a Thai professor suggested Cambodia should hand over Preah Vihear temple to Thailand. 

“I don’t need the Thai professor to apologize but I need the Thai government to say a public apology to the Cambodian people,” said No Migy, a 22-year-old student at Norton University.

Seng Lim, director of Preah Sisowath High School, said he, too, was offended by what he had seen in recent media reports.

Last week, the Khmer-language newspaper Kampuchea Thmei Daily (New Cambodia) reported that Prasidh Ekabutr of Bangkok’s Thammasat Univer­sity said Preah Vihear should be given to Thailand as compensation for the $48 million in damages claimed by Thai-owned businesses after last January’s anti-Thai riots.

“It’s not correct to give Khmer heritage to Thailand as compensation because the value of Preah Vihear temple is too high,” Seng Lim said.

Bun Sambath, a taxi driver who drives between Battambang province and Phnom Penh, agreed. “The Thai government is the parent of the Thais, thus they must be responsible whenever their children have done something wrong,” Bun Sambath said.

The Cambodian government, however, said there was no need for Thailand to apologize.

“It’s just only one man who has said [this] so we should consider this as a personal matter,” said gov­ernment spokesman Khieu Kanharith.

Following Kampuchea Thmei Daily’s report last week, the Thai Em­­bassy sent a letter to the Min­is­try of Foreign Affairs and the Min­istry of Information, asking them to stop the spread of the articles.

The embassy emphasized that the professor’s proposal was just his personal opinion and not the opinion of the Thai government.

Last year, unsubstantiated re­ports that Thai actress Suvanant Kongying claimed Angkor Wat belonged to Thailand led to the Jan 29 riots in Phnom Penh, which heavily damaged the Thai Emba­ssy and destroyed a number Thai businesses. The Thai Embassy on Mon­day declined to comment .


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