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25 reasons why 7 clumsy Thais should be released

By Tulsathit Taptim
The Nation

Starting 2011 this way is too deja vu
for comfort, so here’s my open plea to the Cambodian government. Please
set free the 7 clumsy Thais immediately for the following reasons:
1. We’ve had enough laughs. Please free them before things get really serious, which they otherwise will, soon.
2. New Year spirit. Come on.
3. With Thaksin Shinawatra no longer your economic adviser, he can’t just land on your soil and play the hero again.
4. Even if he could, how ironic
and paradoxical that would be. A man without a Thai passport entering
Cambodia to help secure the release of those detained for illegal
entry, though they hold genuine Thai passports. Please don’t let it get
messier than this.
5. Time will continue to fly.
The Preah Vihear-Unesco controversy will resurface in the blink of an
eye at a Bahrain meeting. Let’s save our energy for that mega showdown.
6. Unlike the Preah Vihear
dispute, this will win an election for nobody. Cambodian voters
couldn’t care less about the arrest of a Thai MP who strayed over the
border like a lost puppy. Thais are so enthusiastically divided that
they won’t let this trivial incident influence their decision anyway.




7. Think of the good old days when we helped you fend off the Vietnamese.


8. Sometimes neighbours simply
have to put conflicts to rest. We’ve stopped talking about the “red
training camp” and speculating on the whereabouts of Arisman
Pongruangrong.


9. Abhisit Vejjajiva and Hun Sen looked really “bromance” together. Let’s not spoil that.


10. Kasit Piromya is a bit of a
loose cannon. We give you that. But hasn’t he behaved himself lately?
(This was written before the foreign minister was to go on air to tell
the Thai public about what the Thai government planned to do. If he was
back to his belligerent self, remember one half of Thailand doesn’t
like him that much either.)


11. No offence to your national
soccer team, but you don’t want the next game with ours to be highly
politically charged, do you?


12. If this is all about ego, repeat after me: We have 3G; the poor Thais don’t.


13. If you release the Thais,
here’s the deal: We can do a hit soap opera featuring a compassionate
Cambodian heroine who fights against all odds to help free a group of
Thais arrested for illegal entry. And for the sake of the “cultural
cooperation” pledged by both prime ministers, we’ll have any Cambodian
actress of your choice play that heroine.


14. On the contrary, failure to
release the prisoners may result in Thai hackers scrambling our TV
signals, thus depriving Cambodians of excellent-quality soap operas
showing, ironically, how to lock a girl up and make her love you in 10
days.


15. After a series of cordial
meetings, Abhisit and Hun Sen agree that one way to shore up bilateral
relations is to solve “easy issues” first. If a group of Thai border
surveyors wandering into Cambodian territory can’t be considered an
easy case, we don’t know what can.


16. Now that I’m at it, didn’t
both governments just sign an agreement allowing brief, visa-free,
cross-border visits? Of course, travellers are supposed to go through
immigration, not cross a field and say, “Hey, look, I’m on Cambodian
soil now”, but could you bend the rules a little for goodwill’s sake?


17. If you put Panich Vikitsech
in jail, you’ll inadvertently trigger a heated constitutional question
of whether he should lose his MP status. Spare us this headache and
we’ll never forget you.


18. Consider our mess. Panich
belongs to the Democrat Party, which is accused by the yellow
hard-liners of giving in too much to Cambodia. He was taken to the spot
where he was arrested by someone who broke away from the yellow-shirt
mainstream. The yellow shirts, nonetheless, are planning a protest
soon, and the fate of those arrested would be a sure-fire “I told you
so” rallying cry. If you wanted to punish us, that wish has already
been fulfilled.


29. New Year countdown is a big
deal for Thais. If you wanted to punish Panich, locking him up as the
clock ticked toward 2011 did it.


20. In fact, the publicity of “that clip” has done it.


21. Think of the money we Thais spend at your casinos year after year.


22. This may be politically impolite, but please think of the refugee camps.


23. Neither of us wants to be part of the next generation’s textbook on “Silliest border conflicts of all time”, do we?


24. Come on, “Asean community”
has to mean something apart from “hand-locking” photo ops and
snail-paced free trade negotiations.


25. Of course, we’ve had some laughs over this episode, but overall, we are just so sick and tired. Please help.

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