It has been 20 years since the crimes against Saudis were committed, so why are Thai-Saudi relations still at the breaking point?
It has been 20 years since the crimes against Saudis were committed, so why are Thai-Saudi relations still at the breaking point? From this story, it seems like little has been done on the Thai side to make things better. In fact, just the opposite seems to be the case.
Saudi ties at break point
Riyadh wants answers on Somkid promotion
Saudi charge d’affaires Nabil Hussein Ashri, centre, testifies before the House committee on justice and human rights, chaired by opposition Puea Thai MP Pracha Prasobdee, about the promotion of Provincial Police Region 5 chief Somkid Boonthanom to assistant national police chief, while Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, right, looks on. CHANAT KATANYU
The government’s explanation of the promotion of Somkid Boonthanom as assistant police chief will be crucial to the future of Thai-Saudi relations, Saudi Arabia’s top envoy says.
Nabil Hussein Ashri told the Bangkok Post yesterday Riyadh remains ‘‘shocked and surprised’’ by Pol Lt Gen Somkid’s promotion from the Police Region 5 commander to assistant police chief.
Saudi Arabia does not understand how a police general who has been charged with a criminal offence and is due to go on trial can be promoted to a very senior position, Mr Ashri said.
Mr Ashri, invited to attend a meeting of the House committee on justice and human rights, explained the Saudi position to MPs during a three-hour session which Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban also attended.
Pol Lt Gen Somkid has been charged in connection with the disappearance in 1990 of Mohammad al-Ruwaili, and the Saudis fear his promotion could affect the case.
The Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) indicted Pol Lt Gen Somkid and four other active and former police officers in January in connection with the disappearance of the Saudi businessman. The trial is due to start on Sept 25.
Saudi Arabia downgraded diplomatic ties with Thailand after the jewellery theft by a worker, the murder of its diplomats in Bangkok and the disappearance of al-Ruwaili more than 20 years ago.
Since Pol Lt Gen Somkid’s promotion early this month, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, Mr Suthep, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and Foreign Ministry officials hoped Riyadh would understand the decision by the Police Commission. Mr Suthep is chairman of the commission.
Mr Suthep had said the government would provide Riyadh with an official explanation, but that was two weeks ago, the envoy said.
‘‘So far, the embassy has not yet received an explanation,’’ he said.
Mr Ashri said the official Thai explanation will have a direct impact on the future of Thai-Saudi ties. ‘‘This directly affects the outcome,’’ he said.
Secretary-general of the Central Islamic Committee of Thailand, Pichet Sathirachawal, said on Tuesday, the Saudi embassy would consider closing down the embassy if there is no change in the Thai decision.
‘‘I did not say that. Officially Riyadh decides what will happen. This is beyond the policy mandate of the embassy. My role is to report the facts and what has happened. Riyadh decides,’’ the diplomat said.
Mr Ashri said he did not know what Riyadh’s response would be but he did not discount the possibility of the embassy being closed.
The envoy admitted to being taken aback by public explanations and comments on the promotion by top government officials, in particular Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep.
Mr Ashri said Riyadh does not want to interfere in the Thai judicial system and has not said Pol Lt Gen Somkid is guilty. The OAG has filed charges against him and it will be up to a Thai court to decide, he said.
Riyadh is not saying Pol Lt Gen Somkid should not be promoted, Mr Ashri said. But the commission should reinstate and promote him if the court clears him as not guilty, he added.
A source in the Central Islamic Committee of Thailand said Riyadh took the issue very seriously.
But the source said closing the embassy would be the last resort.
Retaliation could start with further downgrading relations with the Saudi government and recalling Mr Ashri back to the capital in protest.
But Saudi Arabia has already made clear its position it will not let this issue affect Thais who want to go to Mecca for the Haj.
To read the complete story, go here: http://bit.ly/cZNzpL
ties – relations; connections ความสัมพันธ์
promotion – moving to a job at a higher level การเลื่อนตำแหน่ง
testify – to make a statement about something that you saw, know, or experienced, usually in a court of law or to a government agency ให้การเป็นพยาน
crucial – extremely important because it effects the result of something สำคัญยิ่ง
envoy – someone who is sent as a representative from one government or organisation to another ทูต
commander – a police offer of high rank ผู้บังคับบัญชา
charge – to accuse someone officially of committing a crime ตั้งข้อกล่าวหา
offence – a crime or illegal activity for which there is a punishment การกระทำผิดกฎหมาย
due – expected to happen or should happen มีกำหนด
trial – the process of examining a case in a court of law and deciding whether someone is guilty (having committed a crime) or innocent (not having committed a crime) การไต่สวนคดี
senior – with a high rank or position อาวุโส
justice – a fair result or punishment from a court of law ความยุติธรรม
session – a formal meeting of an institution such as a parliament or a court การประชุม
Attorney-General – the top legal officer in some countries, who advises the leader of the government อัยการสูงสุด
indict – to officially accuse someone of a serious crime ฟ้องร้อง
downgrade – to reduce someone or something to a lower rank or position ลดความสำคัญ
diplomatic – relating to relations between countries เกี่ยวกับการทูต
theft – (the act of) dishonestly taking something which belongs to someone else and keeping it การลักขโมย
murder – the crime of intentionally killing a person ฆาตกรรม
diplomat – an official whose job is to represent their government in a foreign country นักการทูต
impact – an effect or influence ผลกระทบ
outcome – a result ผล
embassy – a group of officials who represent their government in a foreign country สถานทูต
policy – a set of plans or action agreed on by a government, political party, business, or other group นโยบาย
mandate – an official order to do something คำสั่ง
role – the purpose or influence of someone or something in a particular situation บทบาท
discount – to consider that something is not important, possible, or likely มองข้าม, ปฏิเสธ
admit – to agree that something is true, especially when you are unhappy, sorry or surprised about it ยอมรับ
taken aback – to be shocked or surprised, especially by something that someone says or does to you ตะลึง
interfere – to deliberately become involved in a situation and try to influence the way that it develops, although you have no right to do this แทรกแซง
judicial system – a country’s court system ระบบศาลยุติธรรม
guilty – having been decided by a court of law that you committed the crime your were accused of มีความผิด
file – to take official action like making a complaint ยื่นคำร้อง
reinstate – to putt someone back in their previous position again ให้กลับมารับตำแหน่งเดิม
source – someone who gives information แหล่งข่าว
issue – a problem that needs to be considered ประเด็น
last resort – something done or used when everything else has failed ที่พึ่งหรือทางออกสุดท้าย
retaliation – doing something harmful or unpleasant to someone because they have done something harmful or unpleasant to you การตอบโต้,การแก้แค้น