Malaysian deputy foreign minister Richard Riot Jaem
 The other day BP blogged about an AFP article which was entitled “Malaysia blames Thailand over Cambodia border clash”. The key quote was:

“An agreement had been agreed upon, (Thailand) should adhere to it, I wouldn’t want to say lacking in faith… (but) they did not adhere to the agreement,” Malaysian deputy foreign minister Richard Riot Jaem told reporters.
“Thailand refused and that’s why the skirmish came again,” said
Riot, who attended the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
meeting where it was agreed 30 observers would be stationed on either
side of the border.
“All the 10 countries, I stress, including Thailand and Cambodia,
agreed to the agreement but sad to say, the agreement was brought back
to the respective two countries. Cambodia accepted it, Thailand did not accept,” he said.
“Before this, Cambodia was pointing at Thailand as starting the
attack and Thailand said it was Cambodia who started …so to (determine)
who started the skirmish… the foreign ministers decided to assign

In response, the Bangkok Post had an article entitled “PM: Malaysia doesn’t understand the border conflict”. Key excerpt:

Malaysia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Richard Riot Jaem does not understand the situation on the Thai-Cambodian border and his criticism is misplaced, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Tuesday.
Mr Riot yesterday blamed Bangkok for the clashes between Thai and
Cambodian troops along the disputed border near the ancient Preah Vihear
temple, and said Thailand “did not adhere to the agreement”.
“The Malaysian deputy foreign minister may not understand the border situation
because there was a tripartite meeting between Thai, Cambodian and
Indonesian foreign ministers last night (May 9) and the issue was
settled,” Mr Abhisit said.

The Nation in an article entitled “Malaysia may be misinformed : Thai FM”. Key excerpts:

Thai Foreign Ministry will seek the appropriate channels to explain to Malaysia what really happened at the border and the facts behind the dispute, the spokesman said.
On Monday, Malaysia’ deputy foreign minister Richard Riot Jaem said
that Bangkok did not adhere to the agreement under which Indonesian
military observers would be stationed on both sides of the border.
Thani said Thailand believed that Malaysia was wrongly informed
about the border conflicts between Thailand and Cambodia. “So it
assumed that Thailand caused the conflicts and the skirmish,” he said.

However, now, Bernama has another article “Richard Riot Denies Blaming Thailand”. Key excerpts:

Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Richard Riot strongly denied Tuesday that he made a statement blaming Thailand for the border clash with Cambodia.
Riot said that his remarks were misinterpreted by
journalists who interviewed him after he opened a symposium on the
Dynamics Of Youth and Terrorism in Kuala Lumpur organised by an agency
under Wisma Putra.

“I was asked twice whether I blamed Thailand and I replied ‘No’.
“So I don’t know how come it was published in the papers that I blamed Thailand,” he told reporters here.
Riot was yesterday reported as saying that Malaysia blamed Bangkok
for the clashes between Thai and Cambodian troops along the disputed
border near the ancient Preah Vihear temple.
Riot said the Malaysian embassy had told the Thai Foreign
Ministry that his statement had been misinterpreted and the ministry had
accepted the clarification.

He said that it was the Malaysian government practice not to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, especially Asean members.

BP: So did AFP get the story wrong? Well, we can look to Bernama, a news agency of the Malaysian government, who also had a article
about Riot’s comment* although the headline “Malaysia Hopeful Thailand
Will Adhere To Ceasefire Agreement” was different. Some quotes from
that article:

Speaking to reporters after inaugurating a Symposium on
the Dynamics of Youth and Terrorism, here today, Riot said he was taken
aback by the fact that the agreement, signed in February, in which he
was the signatory representing the Malaysian government, was not upheld.
“During the meeting in Jakarta in February this year, all 10
countries, including Thailand and Cambodia, had agreed to the
“But sadly, it was not adhered to by the concerned countries. Cambodia accepted it, but Thailand did not,” he noted.
The agreement was violated in April, causing deadly clashes near the
ancient Preah Vihear temple, killing 18 people and displacing thousands
from the area. Thailand and Cambodia continue to accuse each other for
starting the clashes.
“If Thailand would accept and adhere to the agreement, I think the clash will not arise,” Riot added.

BP: So Riot insists he did not blame Thailand, but
the Malaysian government’s own news agency did not refer to his denials.
Ok, if we parse his words from the Bernama article, he says there was
an agreement agreed to back in February; Thailand did not adhere to it,
and Cambodia did;  and if Thailand had adhered to the agreement he does
not think the clash will arise. Yet, he insists he is not blaming
Thailand. Ok, he does not want to use the words blame, but he is clearly
holding Thailand responsible. Yes, he may want to walk back his
“misinterpreted” words now as Malaysia does not to be seen as
interfering, but his government’s own news agency has his words….
*Why hasn’t anyone written the obvious headline, What a Riot!

Asian Correspondent