Thailand is mulling whether to submit a map of the 150-rai area drawn up under a 1962 cabinet resolution to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to identify the Preah Vihear temple's vicinity, Foreign Ministry and security sources say.
On Wednesday night, Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf from Somalia asked Thailand and Cambodia to define the area each party considered to be the vicinity of the temple.
Each of the parties, the judge said, might identify the temple's vicinity by providing a set of geographical coordinates or by referring to the maps it had earlier submitted to the court.
Both sides must submit written statements on the temple's vicinity to the court by April 26 while written observations on the other party's claim must also reach the court by May 3.
The Foreign Ministry source said the area designated as the temple's vicinity in the Thai cabinet resolution on July 10, 1962 was logical because the late king Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia accepted this line when he visited the temple after the ICJ ruling, when he was still a prince.
The Thai government in July 1962 marked the "vicinity" of the temple as an area 20 metres from the temple's naga head staircase toward the main road and two roads running for 100m each in parallel with the temple.
At the rear, it is 30m from the broken staircase at the steep cliff.
The area is a trapezium with an area of approximately 150 rai.
After the troop withdrawal, a barbed-wire fence was erected to mark the vicinity of the temple.
According to the Thai statement, Cambodia was well aware of the Thai actions. The barbed-wire fence was considered by Prince Sihanouk in 1963 to be encroaching on Cambodian territory but only by a few metres and not worth complaining about.
Defence Minister ACM Sukumpol Suwanatat yesterday said he had instructed the Royal Thai Survey Department to mark out the vicinity of the temple and submit the details to the court by the April 26 deadline.
A security source said the vicinity area defined by the Thai side is likely to be the same as the area within the barbed-wire fence under the July 10, 1962 cabinet resolution.
Senator Khamnoon Sitthisamarn said the judge's request for Thailand and Cambodia to pinpoint the temple's vicinity area was a signal the court might rule on the land area comprising the vicinity of the Preah Vihear temple.
If the court decided to rule on the vicinity area this might be considered a partial defeat for Thailand as one of the country's arguments is that the court has no authority to interpret the term vicinity, Sen Khamnoon said.
He left the remark on his Facebook page after Thailand finished giving its oral statement in the first round of hearings on Wednesday.
The second round began last night.
Head of the Thai legal team Virachai Plasai, however, played down concerns about the judge's request.
It was normal practice for a judge to ask questions, he said in an interview from The Hague.
"It was the personal request of the judge, not the request of the court," Mr Virachai said.
About the author
- Writer: Post Reporters