1962 map gets cabinet stamp

Surapong brushes off WHC's impact on ICJ

Thailand has reaffirmed the map approved by the cabinet in 1962 to delineate the Preah Vihear temple's "vicinity", and will now submit it to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The map was presented for acknowledgement to the cabinet Tuesday by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul.

Mr Surapong said the Thai team of lawyers in the Thai-Cambodian frontier case concluded the coordinates last Monday.

The Thailand-proposed vicinity is small and close to the temple ruins, just as Virachai Plasai, Thai ambassador to The Hague and head of the Thai team of lawyers, suggested.

The coordinates have nothing to do with the adjacent 4.6 sq km land plot that Cambodia claims is also part of the vicinity of the temple ruins. The Thai team will send the map and its coordinates as well as an explanation to the ICJ on Friday.

Cambodia will then send its reaction and the Thai team will communicate its response to the ICJ on May 3.

During oral hearings at the ICJ last week, Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf from Somalia asked Thailand and Cambodia to define what they believed to be the "vicinity" of Preah Vihear and submit their findings to the court by Friday.

According to a source, the Thai cabinet took about 10 minutes to acknowledge the coordinates of the temple's vicinity.

After the government spokesman's team and officials not directly involved in the matter had been asked to leave the conference room, Mr Surapong asked Tana Weskosith, deputy director-general of the Department of Treaties and Legal Affairs, to present the coordinates.

Meanwhile, Mr Surapong said he does not think the resolution of the next meeting of the World Heritage Committee (WHC), to be held in Cambodia in June, will have any effect on the frontier dispute case being handled by the ICJ.

Cambodia has unilaterally registered the Preah Vihear temple ruins for a World Heritage listing and has requested the 4.6 sq km disputed area also be included.

After being urged by the opposition to oppose the unilateral request for the listing, Mr Surapong said he was waiting for information on the matter from the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, which is handling the WHC issue. Mr Surapong said he will not take any action until he has received the information.

If the ministry proposes co-development of the area by Thailand and Cambodia, Mr Surapong said he will have to consider if this would have any negative impact for Thailand.

In response to calls from some activists for Thais to oppose the ICJ's consideration of the border dispute, Mr Surapong said the public should remain calm.

The Foreign Ministry will issue documents to explain the frontier matter, he said.

These documents will not favour Cambodia, he added.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said she believed the ICJ would issue a fair judgement for the sake of regional interests and keeping the peace.

She also said all the authorities concerned were prepared for the various possible ICJ rulings.

Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha has ordered the 2nd Army to prepare for any border situations with Cambodia regarding the frontier dispute.

"Pending the judgement, peace must be maintained. If a clash with weapons is necessary, there will be one," Gen Prayuth said.

However, he promised the Thai military would not start any conflict and the safety of Thai soldiers was a priority.

He also ordered the 2nd Army to install loudspeakers along the border near the Preah Vihear temple so Thai soldiers can swiftly talk to their Cambodian counterparts in Khmer to avert possible border clashes.

The army commander praised the Thai team of lawyers and said the army was gathering additional evidence to assist them.

Related search: thailand, cambodia, preah vihear temple, disputed area, 1962 map, vicinity

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Writer: Patsara Jikkham, Pradit Ruangdit & Wassana Nanuam