Democrats urge govt to clarify temple stance

The opposition Democrat Party is pressing the government to clarify its stance on the country's court battle with Cambodia over the ownership of the land around Preah Vihear temple.

  • Published: 7/01/2013 at 12:24 AM
  • Newspaper section: topstories

Somsak Kosaisuk, a former yellow-shirt co-leader, left, and former constitution drafter Sqd Ldr Prasong Soonsiri greet each other before a seminar held Sunday to discuss the Preah Vihear temple dispute on the Thai-Cambodia border. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

The disputed temple was awarded to Cambodia by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) 51 years ago.

Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul needs to generate public confidence ahead of the court battle with Cambodia, Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said Sunday.

The foreign minister has said he will consider suing anyone who criticises him for saying Thailand may not come out on top in the territorial dispute.

Cambodia has asked the court to reinterpret its 1962 judgement which awarded it ownership of the temple.

Both Cambodia and Thailand will attend an oral hearing in April.

In the 1962 ruling, the ICJ ruled that the temple belonged to Cambodia, but the court made no decision on whom the land around the temple belonged to. The 4.6 sq km plot of land is claimed by both countries.

A verdict is expected in October.

Mr Abhisit said the foreign minister needs to inform the public about what the government is actually doing to win the court battle.

Mr Surapong should focus less on the criticism of himself and more on winning the dispute, Mr Abhisit said.

The court battle over the Preah Vihear temple should be handled with utmost caution, he said. The government has said it will maintain the same legal team from the previous administration in dealing with the territorial dispute.

Democrat list MP Ong-art Klampaibul said the government made that call to shirk responsibility should it lose the dispute.

The Pheu Thai-led government should assemble the best possible legal team to win the case, he said.

Meanwhile, Noppadon Pattama, a legal adviser to ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, said the Preah Vihear temple was declared as belonging to Cambodia in the ICJ's previous ruling.

Cambodia had every right to get the ancient temple listed as its World Heritage site, he said.

Mr Noppadon had signed the Thai-Cambodian Joint Statement on June 8, 2008, supporting Cambodia's request for the listing.

Mr Noppadon blasted Democrat spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut for saying Cambodia won the listing because of his support.

According to Mr Noppadon, he, along with the Samak Sundaravej government, signed the agreement in an attempt to save the disputed area around the temple from being claimed by Cambodia.

That statement was later ruled invalid by the Administration Court, so it has no bearing on the matter, Mr Noppadon added.

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