By Sun Narin

The long-standing dispute between Thailand and Cambodia over Preah Vihear temple has lasted nearly three years since the temple was listed as the world heritage in July, 2008. Thailand has not been satisfied with the listing since it stays on the position that the temple is its possession too.

With the disagreement over the listing of the temple, Thailand has persecuted Cambodia by deploying the military at the border near Preah Vihear to threaten Cambodia and wants to make war with Cambodia. To response the issue, Cambodia has sent its own military to the border in order to protect the land against the invasion of Thailand.

Since then, the tensions between the two countries has started being worst from day to day as situation in Thailand has been bad since there is demonstration from Red Shirt people who supported former Thailand’s Prime Minister Thaksin Sinawatra, who was toppled in 2006 by military coup.  Two premiers who ruled the country after removing Thaksin from the position and supported by the red shirt and were believed to have Thaksin behind could not stay in the position as the PM since the yellow shirt people overthrew them since they wanted the new PM supported by the king. Then Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva was promoted to the PM and the red shirt people has been started trigger the upheaval in Thailand by doing demonstration throughout the Bangkok city.

With this situation at the border and in the city, the two nations has downplayed the political issue with each other by first with regard to Thaksin. Thaksin was positioned to the economic adviser to Cambodia’s government, which angered Thailand. Thailand said Cambodia hid Thaksin and making the two MP-Abhisit Vejjajiva and Hun Sen- upset and verbally controversial with each other. In October 2008, Cambodia and Thailand had the first military clash causing some troops dead. Through the negotiation, the situation became normal since then and the bilateral negotiation continued day to day but there was no any fruitful solutions at all.

However, from 2008 to 2010, Cambodia warned Thailand to ask for the UN intervention while Thailand did not want to have the mediator both UN and ASEAN to interfere the issue since it wanted to tackle the problem with Cambodia bilaterally, but it seemed Cambodia did not do anything about asking the intervention or filed complaint to the UN while Preah Vihear is the world heritage. Cambodia seems not want to ask for the UN mediator in the issue too.

Recently, due to the clash on February 4, 2011, the tensions were very worst, which makes Cambodia’s PM Hun Sen decide to ask the intervention from the UN. Cambodia has asked for UN to have the immediate meeting over the issue. Now the United Nations decided to have the meeting on Monday and Cambodia and Thailand’s foreign Ministers prepared the document to face each other before the UN.

The analyst says that Thailand’s PM still insisted and waged the clash because he wanted to make yellow shirt people that he can do everything for people, especially for the temple. He wanted to show his people that he is demanding the temple for people.

At the meantime, the UN commission of the world heritage wanted to visit Preah Vihear temple to see the situation and estimate the destruction to the temple, but Thailand was not satisfied with that by saying it is not time for UN’s visit while the border is in conflict.

Also, Thailand said that Cambodia was supported by Russia, China and India in the conflict. On the contrary, it is said that Thailand is also supported by the United States. Now the conflict between the two countries seems involved with the superpowers, so it may influence the decision of the UN.

However, it seems the final time that Cambodia informed the UN, but the results are invisible yet. We do not know how can the United Nations decide. Just to notify, the temple belongs to Cambodia and now it is destroyed, so more or less Thailand has to be responsible for that.

I am skeptical why Cambodia did not ask for the UN intervention for the first time.

What will happen if the superpowers involve with the issue?

What is the sake of insisting the temple while it belongs to Cambodia and listed as the world heritage. I am sure that Thailand cannot get this, and Thai PM and people recognize that but why they still want to make conflict. Does it want the land of 4.6 kilometer square?

Boundary Issues

Thailand and Cambodia jostle for a slice of history and a patch of land

1962 The International Court of Justice gives Cambodia custody of the ancient Preah Vihear Temple, on its border with Thailand, but fails to rule on ownership of a nearby patch of land, an issue that simmers between the two countries.

2003 Riots erupt in Phnom Penh, including an attack on the Thai embassy, after a Thai television star is mistakenly reported as saying Cambodia’s famed Angkor Wat complex rightfully belongs to Thailand.

July 2008 Cambodia applies to have Preah Vihear listed as a United Nations World Heritage Site, triggering an upsurge in nationalist sentiment in both Cambodia and Thailand.

October 2008 Cambodian and Thai troops exchange gunfire in the disputed border area; two Cambodian soldiers are killed.

January 2011 Tensions worsen when Cambodia detains two Thai citizens for illegally crossing the border as part of a political stunt.

Feb. 1, 2011 Cambodia convicts the two Thais for illegal entry and espionage, sentencing one to six years and the other to eight years in prison.

Feb. 4, 2011 Cambodian and Thai troops fire at each other near the Preah Vihear site as tensions escalate amid nationalist street protests in Bangkok.

Feb. 7, 2011 Cambodia calls for U.N. intervention.