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Thai claims are outrageous

Opinion


Ek Madra
Thailand
claimed that Cambodia attacked first when hostilities broke out 10 days
ago at the Preah Vihear Temple region. Thailand also claimed, via its
premier, that Cambodia positioned troops at the world heritage site of
Preah Vihear.
Displaced villagers in a temporary shelter after fleeing their homes near the Preah Vihear Temple. Photo by: Heng Chivoan

Fact or fiction?

Thailand’s GDP for 2010 at
constant prices was estimated at US$580.3 billion. The population of
Thailand in 2010 was estimated at 67.7 million. The country has a land
mass of 513,120 square kilometres. And armed forces, including
paramilitaries, as of 2008 were at 665,000, including modern main
battle tanks, F16 fighter jets and attack helicopters as well as naval
units.

Cambodia’s GDP was US$29.5 billion. Cambodia has a
population of 14 million people and its land area is 181,035 square
kilometers. Its armed forces number approximately 100,000, and it has a
virtually non-existent air force and naval units.

Given the
above, would anyone of a sane and rational mind ever belief what Thai
premier Abhisit Vejjajiva alleged – that Cambodia attacked the Thai
military and civilian units across the tenacious border of Preah Vihear
over four consecutive days  in early February?

Is this logical
for Cambodia to actually mount an offensive against Thailand as claimed
and foolishly alleged by Thailand? Cambodia is a vastly smaller
neighbour, struggling to build its economy, build infrastructure and
bring basic amenities to her people.

On the contrary, it would
be outrageous, ridiculous and even outright stupid for Cambodia to
launch any offensive against Thailand in the battle field as it is
outnumbered in every single aspect of the armed forces – from the
military to the air force, to the navy and to the paramilitary and even
the civilian police force.

In the absence of an air force,
attack helicopters, modern main battle tanks, an inadequate supply base
and nightmarish logistics, no one ever believed Cambodia is capable of
mounting any form of attack against Thailand.    

Cambodia,
which emerged from three decades of civil war from 1970-1998 during
which her infrastructures were devastated and tens of thousands of
people were killed, is tired of fighting.

It is clear and
evident that Thai premier Abhisit, fearing an international public
relations nightmare and a highly likely scenario of being sanctioned by
the UNSC, ASEAN, UNESCO and other international institutions, has
embarked on a much maligned public relations  campaign to say that the
victim has been the aggressor.  The above facts speak volumes of this,
including the Thai threat to unleash its mighty air force on Cambodia
if Cambodia did not withdraw from its own territory.

Surely the
international community and ASEAN are mature enough and have within
them the capability of rational thinking based on the facts on the
grounds to judge or conclude who is the aggressor and who is the
victim.

Furthermore, Abhisit also alleged that Cambodia used
the world heritage listing of Preah Vihear to house troops and launch
attacks on Thai territory. This is another outrageous lie and false
propaganda designed to pull the wool over the international community’s
eyes and against all reasoning.

Cambodia has to defend the
vicinity of Preah Vihear Temple given the fact that Thailand has tried
on several occasions by military means to occupy the temple’s
surrounding area, which is Cambodia’s territory.

This is the
opening Thailand is seeking, yearning and even prepared to die for.
Thailand wants to walk into the Preah Vihear Temple unopposed,
unchallenged and plant its flag on sovereign Cambodian soil.
Thailand
intended and intends to do this unopposed and is masking its intentions
by alleging that Cambodia is using the world heritage site as a
military base.

These lies and malicious rumours are precisely
the reason why Cambodia has invited the United Nations military
observers to take up positions in the Preah Vihear Temple region and
its vicinity, on sovereign Cambodian territory, so the international
community can see up close and in person that Cambodia is indeed a
victim of Thailand’s grand scheme of annexing Cambodian soil, seizing
Cambodia’s and the world’s cultural heritage from right under the nose
of Cambodia and the world community.

This would indeed be the
case if Cambodia left the temple unguarded as history and the ICJ has
proven that Thais have looted the Preah Vihear Temple for centuries and
will continue to do so, even if they have no legal, cultural,
historical and no moral right to the temple or its vicinity.

Cambodia,
by appealing to the UNSC and the world community, including UNESCO, to
take up its just cause, has done the right thing as an intransigent
Thailand has proven time and again over decades that it cannot be
trusted or depended upon to accept internationally binding verdicts,
not bilateral agreements, as it harbours territorial ambitions and to
claim as its own what it does not own or understand in the first place.


Ek Madra is spokesperson for the Press and Quick Reaction Unit at the Council of Ministers.

Phnom Penh Post 
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Categories: Local News
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