Sparks Fly Over Preah Vihear Accusations

Preah Vihear’s provincial governor on Sunday refuted the allegation of a Thai general, as re­ported by The Bangkok Post last week, that Cambodian development near Preah Vihear temple has encroached on Thai territory.

“I’ve never seen or heard of Cambodia invading or grabbing another country’s land,” Gov­ernor Preap Tan said. “Therefore, it would be a hot, news story in the world if Cambodia invaded a neighboring country’s territory.”

The two countries’ border commissions should demarcate the border as soon as possible to keep the situation peaceful, the governor said.

“Don’t say Cambodia grabs other countries’ land, not even the land it has lost. Cambodia cannot demand [former territory] back,” he added.

Var Kim Hong, chairman of the border commission at the Coun­cil of Ministers, could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

Songchai Chaipatiyut, second secretary at the Thai Embassy, declined to comment.

On Thursday, The Bangkok Post reported that a Thai colonel, Thawatchai Samutsakhon, had said shops and a road had en­croach­ed on Thai territory.

The article said that workers had been trying to build a road up the heavily mined Ta Tao pass through the Dangrek mountain range and into Thailand’s Si Sa Ket province.

General Chaisit Shinawatra was quoted saying, “I strongly oppose any move to open the pass.”

Thawatchai was reported as saying that Cambodia plans to install cable cars to carry tourists up to the clifftop site, which is difficult to access from the Cam­bodia side.

The article also reported that Thawatchai said Cambodia has plans to build casinos around the 11th century temple.

Accusations of encroachment fly frequently across the border between local Thai and Cam­bodian authorities.

The dispute between the two sides flared up last month when Kampuchea Thmei Daily (New Cambodia) published articles, reporting that a Thai professor proposed that Preah Vihear temple be handed back to Thai­land to compensate for damages caused to Thai-owned businesses in last year’s anti-Thai riots. The articles prompted the Thai Em­bassy to send a letter to the Min­istry of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Information, asking them to stop spreading the reports. “I haven’t yet seen the article in the paper, and I also haven’t received anything from Bang­kok,” he said.


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