SRP: End Backdoor Thai Deals Over Temple

SRP lawmaker Son Chhay called Thursday for government officials to end any talks with Thai business interests in response to Thailand’s opposition to the nomination of Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site.

Thai Foreign Minister Nop­padon Pattama told reporters on Friday that his country would again seek to delay the temple’s nomination at a meeting of the World Heritage Committee, which began Wednesday in Canada.

The Thai government this week withdrew its support for the nomination. Last year, Thai objections scuttled a similar attempt.

In a letter to the Council of Ministers, Son Chhay called for a meeting with Cabinet Minister Sok An and said Cambodia should do more to prevent alleged Thai interference in sovereign Cambodian affairs. The letter also called for an end to bilateral talks on the Thai border.

“Please stop any joint management or joint venture business with Thais. If there is any secret contact with [former Thai premier] Thaksin [Shinawatra], it should be stopped or eliminated,” the letter said.

Thai Embassy officials could not be reached for comment Friday, but Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan dismissed Son Chhay’s letter as election season grandstanding. “There is no agreement with the Thais,” he said. “He is just using this issue for political interest.”

Son Chhay said Friday he had received information about possible joint ventures on tourism developments near the temple and hoped these would be ended.

“I heard about casinos and tourist developments in the so-called disputed area,” he said. “I really believe that a secret deal was struck between Thaksin and Hun Sen.”

He noted the 2001 demotion of Tourism Ministry director-general So Mara, who was denounced for signing a joint-management agreement with Thailand for the temple. So Mara was later made Under­secretary of State at the ministry.

Media reports indicated Nop­padon testified Friday in Thailand’s Constitution Court, which is to rule on whether the Thai government acted unconstitutionally in endorsing a joint-statement last month supporting Cambodia’s nomination of the temple.

“Thailand is not in a position to support the listing at this juncture,” Noppadon said before testifying, according to The Nation newspaper.


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