Home > Local News > [Thai] PM denies border tour was secret

[Thai] PM denies border tour was secret

Thanida Tansubhapol
Bangkok Post

Prime
Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva grimaces as he walks from the Thai Khu Fa
building at Government House to attend the cabinet meeting yesterday.
PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has
addressed a news conference to explain a YouTube video clip which shows
Democrat MP Panich Vikitsreth making a phone call to someone to tell Mr
Abhisit’s secretary, Somkiart Krongwatanasuk, that he and six other
Thais were crossing the border into Cambodia just before they were
arrested last Wednesday by Cambodian soldiers. The following are the
prime minister’s responses to questions from reporters.
Did you order Mr Panich to go on this trip?
I assigned Mr Panich to
coordinate with a group of people who do not understand the
Thai-Cambodian problem, to ease the conflict in Thai society to prevent
it from escalating and affecting the Thai-Cambodian relationship.
Mr Panich reported to me that
there were local people who had problems using land along the border.
He wanted to go to the area to take care of this issue.
He told me he would go to
Prachin Buri, not Sa Kaeo. He also asked me how he could coordinate
with the local authorities. I told him to call me when he arrived in
the area where he needed to coordinate with the authorities.
Mr Panich’s secretary called me after he [Mr Panich] was arrested.
Why did Mr Panich tell somebody to tell your secretary not to tell anybody [that he was inside Cambodian territory]?
Mr Panich informed only me
about the trip. If the PM’s secretary was to report to other people,
they would not understand. So he had to inform me. It was not a secret mission.



Didn’t Mr Panich coordinate with the local authorities?

That
area was under the responsibility of the Border Patrol Police. We need
to find out what happened with the Border Patrol Police checkpoints
along the road and why there were no policemen on it that day.

This is not the time to criticise anybody. We will find out when the situation eases.

Have you watched the video clip?

Yes,
I have. The clip should be more than four minutes long. The person who
posted it on YouTube cut it to a little over one minute.

[Mr Panich] said [in the uncut version of the clip] he believed he was in Thai territory and heading for boundary marker No.46.

We
should not make an assumption from the cut version of the video clip
[in which Mr Panich was seen speaking on the phone] that he was going
into Cambodia and that I was aware of it.

Will this clip make it more difficult for the government to help the seven Thais who were arrested?

There is no indication there will be a problem. I have ordered relevant agencies to follow this issue closely.

Foreign Minister Kasit [Piromya] went to Cambodia and was given the video clip, which lasted more than 20 minutes.

We
brought the video back and sent a Thai official on Dec 31 to go to the
areas shown in the video [with the cooperation of the Cambodian
authorities] to find the exact location where the Thai people were
arrested.

Officials
tried to locate the area on maps the next day but the existing maps
lack the detail of roads and geographic conditions, which makes the
identification difficult.

Did you know Veera Somkwamkid, a coordinator with the People’s Alliance for Democracy, would also be on the trip?

[Mr Panich] didn’t tell me he would go with Mr Veera. He told me only he would go with Mr Samdin [Lertbutr, a PAD activist].

In
the video clip, when the Cambodian authorities ask him why he did not
coordinate with anybody, he said he didn’t find anybody when he passed
the Border Patrol Police checkpoints. This is a fact that I know.

So far, I have not yet talked to Mr Panich and I don’t want the issue to escalate.

Is the relationship with Cambodia still normal?

You mean now? It’s normal. Please let me work on the issue first.
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