Home > Local News > [Thai] Govt should be scientific about boundary issue

[Thai] Govt should be scientific about boundary issue

Expressions of blind
patriotism and childish acts are the problem, not a solution for the
boundary disputes Thailand is having with its neighbour, Cambodia. This
issue should really be solved by scientific methods, not nationalist
sentiment or military means.

Yellow-shirt activist Veera Somkwamkid and his group are clearly using the wrong approach. Their idea of putting pressure
on the government to use force to kick Cambodians off the land believed
to be under Thai sovereignty would trigger serious problems and cause
trouble for residents on both sides.

Last week, Veera, Democrat MP Panich Vikitsreth and other members of the Santi Asoka group ended up in the Prey Sar prison for
nothing except more conflict with Cambodia. Whether the seven men are
in prison or not, the boundary issue in Sa Kaew province’s Ban Nong
Chan area remains unsolved, while the government uses the taxpayers’
money to rescue them.

Veera and his group tried several times
to call attention to the boundary issue by showing up in the disputed
area and provoking arrest. In August, Cambodian authorities detained
Veera for trespassing, but he managed to get out shortly afterwards
thanks to help from the Thai border police. Nobody paid attention then.

This
time, however, he’s been making headlines, especially since he dragged
someone like Panich, a government MP, along to call attention. Also,
Cambodian PM Hun Sen is reportedly furious over Veera’s second attempt
at trespassing.

A Phnom Penh court has charged the seven Thai
nationals of illegal entry and unlawfully entering a military base. The
two charges could have them in prison for 18 months if they are
convicted.

Previously, the Cambodian court sentenced three Surin
residents to 18 months for illegal entry after they crossed the
boundary by mistake while hunting. After four months in jail, they
obtained a royal pardon to mark 60 years of diplomatic ties between the
two countries.

This time though, Panich and Veera’s defence team has no excuse because a leaked video clip shows that the group knew they were trespassing when they were arrested. Information from the Royal Thai Survey Department indicates the group had gone 55 metres deeper into Cambodian territory, according to Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya.

One can only hope the Cambodian court rules on the case quickly and hands them a lenient punishment.

However, this court trial could have some consequences
on boundary negotiations in the future because it is as if Thailand is
admitting the area is actually under Cambodian sovereignty.

The
boundary area there has been under dispute for years since Cambodians
started fleeing civil war to settle on the border three decades ago.
They settled in and are refused to move out even though war is over.

In
fact, the boundary in that particular area was demarcated more than a
century ago. Unfortunately the boundary pillars 46, 47 and 48 that were
there to indicate the boundary line have either been destroyed or
removed. The two countries have kept no records as to exactly where the
pillars were and where the boundary line runs. Advance geographical
techniques and peaceful negotiation could help settle this problem,
though nothing has been done.

All patriotic figures should know
that the only way of settling the boundary conflict and securing the
territory permanently would be to let the joint boundary mechanisms
continue working. Otherwise, it’s difficult to see this problem ever
getting solved.

 
The Nation
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Categories: Local News
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