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Former bedfellows fall out over Cambodia

Unity in the People’s Alliance for
Democracy has taken a further blow after a messy parting of the ways
with its former champion, Foreign Affairs Minister Kasit Piromya.
A Chinook
helicopter from the Lop Buri-based General Support Aviation Battalion
takes part in an artillery air transport exercise at Surathampitak army
camp in Nakhon Ratchasima. PRASIT TANGPRASERT
Mr Kasit was attacked by the
PAD yesterday after he refused to accept the group’s demands that the
government revoke a 2000 border agreement with Cambodia and withdraw
from the World Heritage Committee.
The alliance also demands that
the government use force to expel Cambodian soldiers and villagers from
the 4.6-square-kilometre disputed area on the border.

The PAD severed ties with the
foreign minister after he insisted on a policy of negotiation rather
than confrontation with Cambodia.
The conflict of loyalties
between his role as minister and membership of the PAD has caused Mr
Kasit political headaches in the past.
He joined the PAD as a vocal
member of its campaign to overthrow former prime minister Thaksin
Shinawatra in 2006. Mr Kasit criticised Thaksin for alleged conflicts
of interest in his government’s dealings with Cambodia.
As an unelected member of the
Democrat Party-led coalition, Mr Kasit said yesterday he must follow
the government’s policy of forging peace with neighbouring countries.
Mr Kasit said he had chosen to engage with neighbouring countries to build peace and prosperity, rather than seek confrontation.
“If there is any conflict [with neighbouring countries], we have to negotiate peacefully as friends,” the minister said.
“The PAD should not act like a baby or react with emotion.”
Thailand would not employ a
policy of confrontation in solving problems with Cambodia as the two
countries have common business interests and natural resources that
they could share, Mr Kasit said.
“I’d like to plead [with the
PAD]: This is the peaceful and right means of solving the problem,
which will create mutual benefits without affecting Thai investors in
Political analysts said Mr Kasit’s break with the PAD exposed further cracks within the movement.
The Thai Patriots Network and
the Santi Asoke sect have separated from the PAD and are holding their
own demonstrations even though their protest demands are related to the
same sovereignty issues with Cambodia.
The analysts felt the PAD’s
credibility could be eroded now it had turned against a “friend” whom
it once regarded as an authoritive figure in foreign affairs.
Attacking Mr Kasit personally rather than the government could also dilute the PAD’s message.
On stage last night, PAD
co-leader Sondhi Limthongkul took to task people he called “fake” PAD
members – a reference to Mr Kasit. PAD spokesman Panthep Phongphuaphan
said yesterday Mr Kasit had forgotten his own duties and role as
foreign minister.
He said the minister failed to
tell people what his ministry would do to protect national sovereignty,
even though that was part of his job.
Mr Panthep said the minister
allowed Cambodia to detain seven Thais who were arrested on what the
PAD regarded as Thai territory.
Historian Thepmontri
Limpaphayom said Mr Kasit was “sick” and had betrayed the nation. He
urged Mr Abhisit to dismiss him from the cabinet.
PAD leader Chamlong Srimuang
yesterday dismissed the prime minister’s remark that revocation of the
2000 agreement might lead to conflicts or even war.
The memorandum required the two
countries to base their border demarcation on a 1:200,000 map that put
Thailand at a disadvantage, he said.
Meanwhile, the PAD and the Thai
Patriots Network yesterday refused a government request that they
abandon their protests on Phitsanulok and Ratchadamnoen Nok roads,
claiming moving would put protesters in danger.
Bangkok Post
Categories: Local News
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