Thai PM: The disputed area belongs to Thailand


Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Monday averred that his government would not give up the contested 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) area adjacent to the ancient Preah Vihear temple to Cambodia, saying that the area which is owned by Thailand must belong to the kingdom.

He said the government would send a letter asking the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)’s World Heritage Committee to review the map submitted earlier by Cambodia and give Thai opinion to the UNESCO committee.

The World Heritage Committee will soon meet to consider Cambodia’s application to list the ancient temple and its surrounding areas, contested by the two neighbouring countries, as a World Heritage site.

Mr Abhisit said Cambodia has been trying to acquire the area for two years but his government would not budge and would not accept any disputed map submitted by the neighbouring country.

The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that Preah Vihear temple belongs to Cambodia, but Thailand insists that the 1.8 square miles area surrounding the ancient temple belongs to Thailand.

Border demarcation in the area remains unresolved and sporadic clashes have occurred recently.

The Thai prime minister said the Thai-Cambodia border has returned to normal after Mr Hun Sen cancelled his planned visit to Ta Muen Thom temple ruins in Thailand’s northeastern province of Surin.

He also shrugged off reports that Cambodia has changed the name of the village opposite Ta Muen Thom ruins as Ta Muen Village, saying the matter will not cause any misunderstanding nor confusion as Thailand can prove that the area belongs to the kingdom.

Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters led by the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) or the Yellow Shirts have dispersed after receiving confirmation that Mr Hun Sen had cancelled his planned visit and returned to Phnom Penh.

The PAD leaders said they have successfully put pressures and force the Cambodian leader not to enter onto Thai soil.

Thai military personnel remains stationed at the Ta Muen Thom ruins and are closely monitoring Cambodian military movements. The area has been declared a restricted zone as the situation is considered risky.