Thais Accused of Delaying Border Checkpoint

Amid a crackdown on Thais crossing the border, officials in Preah Vihear province say their Thai counterparts have failed to open a border crossing as pledged in an agreement between the two countries last year.

“The Thais have not carried out what we agreed upon, opening a new checkpoint,” said a provincial police officer, who wished to remain anonymous.

The countries reopened a controversial border crossing at Preah Vihear temple in May after a five-month-long dispute over a polluted stream that runs into Thailand. Part of the agreement was to open a checkpoint at Ta Thav in Choam Khsan district.

Preah Vihear Governor Preap Tan said Thursday he met with Thai officials twice in the last two months but did not know when the crossing will be opened.

The Thai officials “say they have no order from their government…. They told me they just wanted to open one at Choam” in Anlong Veng district, Oddar Meanchey province, said Preap Tan. That checkpoint opened late last year.

The police officer said Thais say they do not need to open two checkpoints in one province.

Thailand recently increased its vigilance at the crossings after Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shin­awatra called on Thais to stop gambling in Cambodian border towns.

In recent years, casinos have sprouted at checkpoints in Koh Kong, Oddar Meanchey and Ban­teay Meanchey provinces, but there are no casinos or major roads in Ta Thav, a mountainous outpost 9 km from Preah Vihear temple.

According to the provincial police officer, the crackdown has adversely affected tourism at the Preah Vihear temple, where the  number of visitors declined from between 100 and 200 a day to between 10 and 20.

The large majority of those visitors are Thai.

Meanwhile, the police official said officers were searching along the border for demarcation posts from agreements made with Thailand in the 1950s and 1960s. The official said the markers would be useful in preventing Thai troops from encroaching on Cambodian soil.


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