In just under three weeks, Thailand will hear a court verdict likely to have a strong impact on the nation. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is to decide on what could be the final legal challenge over the beautiful, contentious Preah Vihear temple.
It is an understatement to say that the temple has been a source of both pride and problems. This is why it is vital for both the government and citizens to accept the coming court decision. The only rational response is to respect it as final and binding.
The first harsh fact about the Nov 11 verdict is that it will be criticised and disputed, whatever is decided. There is not a chance in a million the ICJ (or World Court) justices can satisfy all Thais and all Cambodians.
Justice and the law are neither designed nor capable of reaching conclusions that appease all. Indeed, the decision to resort to the court came about because officials and political leaders in Bangkok and Phnom Penh failed to reach an agreement that could satisfy both countries.
The second reality is that Thailand could not only lose out in next month's verdict, but could lose out badly. It is necessary to remember that in 1962, the nation's leaders placed the fate of the temple before the World Court.
To most Thais, it seemed obvious that the temple they called Khao Phra Viharn was inside Thailand and obviously belonged to their country.
The judges ruled otherwise. Fingers were pointed, blame was apportioned. Yet the stark fact is that for 51 years, Preah Vihear has belonged to Cambodia.
Upon reflection, then, the judges' decision in the current legal dispute could be just as hard to predict.
This time, the claims over territory surrounding the temple are actually more vexing and complicated than with the 1962 case.
The government believes there are four possible verdicts. It is telling that the most optimistic scenario is that the ICJ justices will throw out the case, and wash their hands of the matter.
All three others envisage rulings which leave Thailand at an even worse territorial disadvantage than today. One possible verdict is that the World Court orders border markers moved, and rules that Cambodia legally owns land claimed and defended for decades by Thailand.
The government and security forces nationwide must face up to such a possibility immediately.
It has been shown many times that even statements and opinions about Preah Vihear and its surroundings can anger various groups.
The Nov 11 verdict has the potential to ignite the biggest, most divisive political issue of the day. Not even three years ago, incredibly trivial, unimportant military movements along the border triggered a series of deadly, destructive clashes between the two armies.
This is why authorities must bear in mind the third unpleasant fact about the Preah Vihear temple. Khmer nationalists are every bit as angry as those on this side of the border.
Vicious anti-Thai riots in Cambodia's capital compelled the military to evacuate Thai citizens out of Phnom Penh in emergency flights.
Hostile, xenophobic mobs exist in both countries and are eager to stoke violence. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, faced with rolling protests from a strong opposition, would no doubt love it if a new issue distracted his opponents.
The government must state now that it will respect the ICJ verdict. It must tell all citizens why it is vital to live by the verdict, even the worst predicted one.
The only possible response to any ruling is to live with it, peacefully.
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