Thailand plans to oppose Cambodia’s management plan for Preah Vihear temple so long as border territory near the World Heritage Site remains contested, a Thai newspaper reported yesterday.
The Bangkok Post reported that Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said his government would reject the Cambodian scheme pending further border negotiations. “We did not agree with the application for the temple to be listed as a World Heritage Site,” the newspaper quoted Mr Kasit as saying. “It looks like putting the cart before the horse.”
Cambodia’s management plan for Preah Vihear temple is slated for discussion by the World Heritage Committee during a July 25-Aug 3 meeting in Brazil.
Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn did not return a request for comment yesterday.
Since the World Heritage Committee inscribed the 11th-century cliff-top temple as a World Heritage Site in July 2008, the Thai government has tried to block the development of the temple as a heritage site.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan, who said he learned of Thailand’s reported intention to oppose the management plan through the media, accused Bangkok of continuing to confuse the issues of the border and Preah Vihear temple.
“Preah Vihear temple is an issue separate from the border issue,” Mr Siphan said. “The world heritage is a culture issue only,” he added.
Thailand’s reported intentions to block the management plan in Brazil “demonstrates the limitless ambition of Thailand,” Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said yesterday. “It is just the ill intention of the Thai government,” Mr Kuong said.
“Preah Vihear temple is a World Heritage Site, and it belongs solely to Cambodia, not to other countries.”
Mr Kuong expressed little doubt that the management plan would win approval from the 21-member World Heritage Committee, which Cambodia and Thailand both acceded to last year.
“What the Committee required us to do we have done,” Mr Kuong said. “If the Thais oppose, I think we could survive,” he added.
During a June 2009 meeting in Spain, the Committee ignored Thailand’s request to challenge registration of the Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site.
In February, Thai newspaper The Nation reported that Thai officials had accused Cambodia of missing the Feb 1 deadline for submitting its management plan, which Cambodia denied.