Thailand’s foreign minister Monday warned that Cambodian-Thai relations would suffer if ousted Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra is allowed to launch political attacks from Cambodia, Bangkok newspaper The Nation reported Tuesday.
“If Cambodia loves Thaksin that much, the ties with Thailand will certainly have problems,” The Nation quoted Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromiya as saying.
Kasit has already spoken a fair share of strong words about Cambodia and Cambodian officials, apologizing to Prime Minister Hun Sen last week for having publicly called him a “nak leng,” or gangster, claiming the actual meaning of what he said was lost in translation.
Cambodian officials Tuesday adamantly denied that Thaksin is in the country, as has been rumored, much less using Cambodia as a base for taking pot shots at the Thai government. “We absolutely deny this rumor,” said Kuy Kuong, spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Ministry. “[It] has no ground, no evidence, no basis at all,” he said.
Asked about Kasit’s latest reported comments, Kuy Kuong said it did not mean that Cambodia-Thai relations have soured, even in the wake of Friday’s armed clashes at Preah Vihear temple. Regardless, Kuy Kuong said, “Thaksin is not in Cambodia.”
Thaksin fled Thailand in August 2008 when an anti-corruption court sentenced him to two years in prison. An occasional golf partner of Hun Sen, Thaksin’s perceived convivial connections to the Cambodian government have not always pleased the political strata in Bangkok. Last year the Thai opposition—which has since come to power—accused the Thai government of changing its stance on the Preah Vihear temple to accommodate Thaksin’s business interests in Cambodia.
The Bangkok Post on Saturday also reported that a spokesman of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Thaksin has been sighted near a house of Hun Sen’s.
Police officials at the Phnom Penh and Siem Reap airports said that Thaksin had not passed through either airport, and a member of Hun Sen’s cabinet also said he had not seen the ex-premier.
(Additional reporting by Prak Chan Thul and Rann Reuy)