Home > Local News > Observers See Role for Former King on Border Issue

Observers See Role for Former King on Border Issue

Former king Norodom Sihanouk could be a valuable asset in the Thai-Cambodian border dispute, a Cambodian historian says.
Former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk and Queen Norodom Monineath
Sihanouk are greeted by students along a Phnom Penh road during during
the marking of the country’s 50th Independence Day in 2003. Phot AP
As monarch, Norodom Sihanouk led Cambodia’s bid to regain Preah
Vihear temple from Thai occupation in 1962 through the International
Court of Justice.
The court determined the temple belonged to Cambodia, but Thailand
continues to dispute the ownership of land nearby, an issue that has
led to a prolonged, deadly military standoff.
Michel Trane, a history professor in Cambodia, told VOA Khmer in an
interview that Norodom Sihanouk is a living witness to those events and
could shed light on the court’s decision and the border standoff.
“Before he is gone, we should make a request to him asking his opinion,” Trane said.
Both sides remain at odds over the disputed area, with the most
violent clashes, in February, followed by a peace effort led by Asean
and its president, Indonesia.
 “Before he is gone, we should make a request to him asking his opinion.”
Officials are scheduled to meet in Indonesia next week to hammer out
the details of a potential Indonesian monitoring mission to the border
to help ensure a ceasefire.
Trane said it was regretful the former king’s knowledge has not yet
been tapped in dealing with the standoff, even as Cambodia prepares a
legal request from the international court on the 1962 decision.
“The most regretful thing is that his great merit was not thought
of,” Trane said of th former monarch, who relinquished the throne in
2004. “I remember that His Majesty fairly said that even a hand-span of
land we would not lose. And he achieved this effective goal.”
Son Soubert, an advisor to the former king whose father helped
prepare the legal case for Preah Vihear in the 1960s, said Norodom
Sihanouk, now 88, could advise on the current dispute.
“He has a lot of experience in diplomatic affairs, legal affairs,
and all of this,” Son Soubert said. “Because indeed it’s a national
issue. It is not the issue of any political party or individual. There
must be unity, all together, to solve our land problem.”
Government spokesman Phay Siphan said the former king does at times
advise the government, including letters of support in the Preah Vihear
issue. However, he said, the current dispute is not the same as the
historical case.
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