PREAH VIHEAR DISPUTE
The Foreign Ministry should formally reject Phnom Penh's claim that Thailand had intruded on Cambodian territory around Preah Vihear temple, the Democrat Party says.
The opposition wants the ministry to defend Thailand's actions in the temple dispute as the two countries prepare to argue their positions at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) this year.
"I call on the government to issue a statement against Cambodia's claim [at the ICJ]," Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday. "To say nothing now would put Thailand at a disadvantage [during the trial]."
Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul is unsure what the next step should be in the fight to protect the 4.6 sq km disputed area around the temple, Mr Abhisit said.He urged the minister to put Thailand's national interests ahead of any other considerations.
Sirichoke Sopha, Democrat Party MP for Songkhla, asked Mr Surapong in the House on Thursday about the government's ICJ strategy.
The minister said he had nothing to say to Cambodia about its accusations against Thailand regarding the area around the temple.
Mr Abhisit said the Thai Patriots Network, which plans a rally today against the ICJ's pending ruling, has the right to express its opposition to the court's jurisdiction on the issue.
The network announced it will gather at the Royal Plaza today to protest against the ICJ's decision to consider Cambodia's request to reinterpret its 1962 ruling, which awarded ownership of the temple to Cambodia but did not mention the area surrounding it.
Pol Maj Gen Parinya Jansuriya, a deputy police chief, said he was concerned about traffic conditions around the Royal Plaza during the rally.
About 100 extra traffic police will be deployed in the area to deal with expected congestion, he said.
Traffic police will liaise with the protest leaders to ensure the safety of demonstrators, while trying to keep traffic flowing as much as possible.
Former Pitak Siam leader Boonlert Kaewprasit said his group would not take part in the rally even though both groups shared the same stance against the ICJ's jurisdiction on the case.
He said Pitak Siam would not attend as it no longer had enough supporters.
However, he said Pitak Siam is willing to help the network compile signatures objecting to the ICJ's decision to consider Cambodia's request.
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- Writer: Pradit Ruangdit