Preah Vihear Temple nightmares

Thailand’s Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama life has forever changed for the worse as the Preah Vihear Temple joins the World Heritage list. The controversial temple has claimed it’s first sacrifice of the new millennium being Noppadon himself.

Things have changed drastically in the last few weeks from Noppadon smiling happily as he displayed the new map of the Preah Vihear Temple he just approved with Cambodia, to now being seen as a traitor or near traitor.

The  Preah Vihear Temple has long been a hotspot between Thailand and Cambodia and in 1962 the International Court of Justice ruled the temple belonged to Cambodia.

Noppadon being a lawyer looked at this as any lawyer would. He first looked at the 1962 court ruling and then concluded that the temple belonged to Cambodia and signing an agreement or understanding with Cambodia had no effect on Thailand. However Noppadon completely forgot that few Thais are lawyers and in their hearts the never accepted the 1962 ruling.

As damage control there was spin by the government saying the document was not binding. However the Thai Administrative Court put an injunction stop any agreement between Thailand and Cambodia from being valid until it could be tested against the constitution. A total of 77 senators and 151 members of Parliament had demanded a ruling from the court as to whether the Cabinet required to receive an approval from Parliament before signing the joint communique as stated by Article 190 of the Constitution. However as the issue was already outside of Thai hands it would seem to be too little too late.

Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej said on Sunday July 6 that the injunction by the Administrative Court to prohibit his government from supporting the listing of Preah Vihear as a world heritage site had undermined the administrative power. That one statement simply married the rest of the People Power Party (PPP) to this nightmare.

The Constitution Court on Tuesday July 8 ruled that a Joint Communique Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama signed with Cambodia over Preah Vihear Temple in June is unconstitutional. The Joint communique with Cambodia is deemed a treaty in accordance with the Constitution’s Article 190 which needs an approval from the Parliament first.

No matter whether the legal outcome being constitutional or not, Noppadon Pattama’s life will be forever changed. The fact it was ruled as unconstitutional only makes things much worse for him and subsequently the members of The government who backed Noppadon. Noppadon will be viewed as giving up a Part of Thailand to Cambodia in a serious loss of face. He may actually have to leave Thailand or risk being killed by one or more irate Thais. The same fate possibly awaits the members of government who backed Noppadon including Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej all of witch have close ties to Thaksin Shinawatra.

Noppadon already is tainted in the eyes of may Thais as he was the lawyer and spokesman for Thaksin Shinawatra the deposed prime minister. Noppadon filed countless attack lawsuits for Thaksin while he was in office. Many of them turned out to be frivolous and clogged the courts. Noppadon was seen as the mouthpiece of Thaksin who is the heart of today’s problems in Thailand.

This storm is far from over as now no doubt Thailand will petition that the Preah Vihear Temple be removed from the World Heritage list as the agreement process did not follow Thai law and was outside of the constitution and therefore a worthless agreement. For that to have any weight in the international eyes, some members of the Thai government must be punished in accordance with Thai law and that list may include Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej.

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