PM vows to put up tough fight at ICJ
The government will do everything in its power to fight a court battle with Cambodia over the ownership of the contested land around the Preah Vihear temple, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra says.
- Published: 8/01/2013 at 12:00 AM
- Newspaper section: topstories
Cambodia has asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to interpret its 1962 judgement, which awarded ownership of the temple to Phnom Penh.
But an area of 4.6 sq km surrounding the temple has remained a source of dispute and is claimed by both countries.
Cambodia will present an oral statement to the judges on April 15, and Thailand will present on April 19. The court is likely to give its ruling in October.
Ms Yingluck said her personal ties with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen will not get in the way of government efforts to safeguard national interests.
She said she had directed her deputy Phongthep Thepkanchana, a legal expert, to work with Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul to handle the issue.
Previously, Mr Surapong said he had discussed the issue with Hun Sen but Phnom Penh had insisted that it will continue fighting the case.
Ms Yingluck said it is understandable that Cambodia is trying to protect its own national interests.
She said the government is looking to pursue diplomatic channels to ensure peace between the two countries and to avoid any border tensions.
She said she did not want the border dispute to become a political issue at home, and the government is trying to gather input from all sides and mobilise all resources available to fight the case to protect the country's sovereignty.
Mr Surapong said yesterday he will meet Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat in the next few days to discuss a plan to set up a joint team of spokesmen from the Foreign Ministry and the Defence Ministry to keep the public informed about the Preah Vihear issue.
The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) has called on the government to refuse to accept the ICJ's pending ruling over the Thai-Cambodia border dispute.
The PAD is demanding the government announce during the court hearing that the ICJ has no authority to intervene and it does not accept ICJ jurisdiction.
The PAD is also pressing the government not to implement the ICJ's injunction, which orders demilitarisation of the disputed area, saying compliance is unnecessary when ICJ jurisdiction is not accepted. The group said it would oppose any move that could put the country at a disadvantage.
Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha yesterday said the army is duty-bound to protect the area claimed by Thailand, and that the army also has a plan ready in the event Cambodia reinforces its troops near the disputed area.
Gen Udomdej Sitabutr, army chief of staff, said troops from both sides along the border still maintain good relations and resolve any problems that arise peacefully.
Senator Kamnoon Sitthisamarn said there is no need for the government to acknowledge the ICJ's jurisdiction.
He said the last time Thailand issued a declaration to accept the court's jurisdiction was in 1949. Each declaration to acknowledge the court's authority lasts 10 years, Mr Kamnoon said.
Thailand's acknowledgment of the court's jurisdiction expired in 1959, only a few months after Cambodia brought the temple dispute to the ICJ, he said.
Since the declaration to accept the court's jurisdiction expired over 50 years ago, Thailand is not legally bound to comply with the pending ruling, he said.
Democrat and opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said Foreign Minister Surapong must do all he can to fight and win the case to dispel suspicions over the government's stance on the issue.
Chaiwat Sinsuwong, the leader of the Thai Patriots Network, said the network will file a lawsuit against the Foreign Affairs Ministry with the Criminal Court next Monday. The network accuses the ministry of spreading false information on the Thai-Cambodia border dispute to the public, Mr Chaiwat said.
The network will hold a mass rally on Jan 21 at the Royal Plaza and then march to the Supreme Court to present a petition opposing any moves that could put the country's territorial integrity at risk.
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- Writer: Post Reporters
- Position: Reporters