Nipat urges public to stand united

Thais should stand united in the fight to preserve the country's territorial sovereignty, Nipat Thonglek, deputy permanent secretary for defence says.

The upcoming International Court of Justice (ICJ) hearing on the Preah Vihear temple on the border with Cambodia should be a win-win for both countries so they can live peacefully together, he said yesterday.

"Even though the court has ruled the temple belongs to Cambodia, the land surrounding the temple is considered Thailand's property," he said.

Gen Nipat was speaking at a Defence Ministry briefing on the temple row.

The ministry yesterday held its first session to explain the dispute to its top brass and journalists.

Gen Nipat said the government would compile a submission to the court to defend Thailand's assertion of ownership to land surrounding the temple.

A further oral explanation in the ICJ on April 15-19 would be the last chance for Thailand to protect its sovereignty to the land.

Cambodia has asked the ICJ to interpret its 1962 ruling, which granted Cambodia ownership of the temple but which did not determine ownership of the land surrounding it.

Among the documents to be submitted would be photos demonstrating that Thailand had strictly followed the 1962 ruling and the 2000 Memorandum of Understanding signed between Thailand and Cambodia, he said.

The MoU was proof the territorial demarcation between the countries was ongoing, Gen Nipat said.

The ICJ ruling is expected in October or November.

Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul is urging the public to accept whatever the court decides.

"We have been arguing all along the ICJ should not tamper with old verdicts," he said. "But from now on, we are preparing the public to accept whatever the verdict will be," he said recently.

He said the public should understand the consequences if Thailand chooses not to comply with the ICJ, particularly the likely trade and economic impacts.

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Writer: Wassana Nanuam
Position: Reporter