Noppadon promises good fight in court
Former foreign minister Noppadon Pattama shows no sign of anxiety over his looming fight with the anti-graft agency in the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions over the controversial "Preah Vihear communique" in 2008.
- Published: 26/04/2013 at 03:40 PM
- Newspaper section: topstories
Then foreign minister Noppadon Pattama points to the area on the border where Preah Vihear temple is sited, showing that Thailand will lose no territory in approving the Cambodian map on June 18, 2008. He resigned less than a month later. (Post file photo)
Mr Noppadon said on Friday he protected the Thai claim to the disputed 4.6 square kilometres of land around the temple claimed by both Bangkok and Phnom Penh when he was seeking cabinet approval for the joint communique backing Phnom Penh's push for Preah Vihear temple to be listed as a world heritage site by Unesco.
Mr Noppadon, a close aide to Thaksin Shinawatra, said he had not tried to bypass parliamentary approval for the communique. It had no consequence of Thai territory being lost.
He was speaking shortly after the Supreme Court decided on Friday to accept for consideration the case brought by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) accusing Mr Noppadon of negligence in office while foreign minister.
The NACC accused Mr Noppadon of violating Section 190 of the constitution in failing to seek parliamentary consent prior to signing the joint communique on June 18, 2008 with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, as required by the charter.
The signing came one day after cabinet approval for his signature.
The judges said the petition was correctly drawn up and constitutional and therefore they agreed to accept the case for consideration.
The court set the first hearing for July 5 at 1.30pm.
Mr Noppadon was foreign minister in the Samak Sundaravej government at the time.
The communique was later nullified by a ruling of the Central Administrative Court in June, forcing Mr Noppadon to resign from office a month later.
The Supreme Administrative Court upheld the lower court's ruling in September.
Thaksin's legal adviser accused the NACC of lying and intentionally putting him in negative light in its petition to the Supreme Court.
All processes leading to the communique had been undertaken properly after seeking comments from government legal experts, the armed forces and security agencies. They agreed that supporting the listing of the ancient Hindu temple ruins by Cambodia would not disturb the overlapped area adjacent to the temple, and in fact protected it from being unilaterally claimed by Phnom Penh, he said.
The Foreign Ministry's Treaties and Legal Affairs Department at the time decided that the document needed no approval in parliament.
Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut welcomed the court's decision, saying it would lift the veil of mystery of who was and was not telling the truth in this matter.
The party-list MP argued that the communique put Thailand at a disadvantage as it was accompanied by a Cambodian map claiming the disputed area. This was contrary to Thailand's stand in the dispute, which strictly limits the temple territory, awarded to Cambodia in 1962, to the actual area where it sits, he said.
Thailand and Cambodia are currently fighting over ownership of the adjacent disputed land in the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Phnom Penh asked the world court to interpret its 1962 ruling, awarding the temple to Cambodia, to also cover ownership of the disputed territory.
The court has completed the oral hearings in the case. Thailand has until 5pm today Netherlands time (10pm Thailand time) to present the map approved by the cabinet in 1962 outlining the disputed "vicinity" of the temple to the court.
The government had not sent the map at the time of writing this sory.
The court is expected to rule on the case later this year, probably in October.
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- Writer: Aekarach Sattaburuth and Saritdet Marukatat