There is no doubt that the circumstances around the Preah Vihear temple and the actual location of the border between Cambodia and Thailand is a political minefield. The problem for Thailand’s government is there is no doubt the convicted fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra and his supporters will look to set off the mines to hurt Thailand’s government.
Ironically the blunder cause by Thaksin’s cronies who opened this Preah Vihear can of worms is now looking to serve it to others. Because this issue is so politically, and patriotically charged, no matter what happens there will be casualties particularly so when it comes to the border dispute.
All it will take to set this off on either side is just the hint land is being given up, and out come the flag waving patriots from both sides of the border. So when it comes to political brinkmanship, this is right up there with a class 5 rapids run. The only possible answer is not to perceive giving up anything and the land in dispute be a common area for both countries. That way both sides will have the sense of gaining and not losing.
Connecting the Dots suggested this approach back in July 2008, and it seems no less appealing now as then. Read it here.
the big story here however is the convicted fugitive Thaksin trying to make some political gain from this. He certainly can do his classic ‘It was not me’ with this one as he was for the most part out of the loop. There was some suggestion that Thaksin arranged this whole debacle as some sort of favor to Cambodia, however that never panned out. It simply was a lawyer who was a politician thinking like a lawyer. The fact that this lawyer was Thaksin’s favorite mouth piece and sue them to the hills lawyer is the only real connection.
What will happen is impossible to predict as it all depends on what direction the talks take between Thailand and Cambodia. But whatever happens you can expect Thaksin and his cronies to be all over this like flies on shit. They will twist and distort thing to and perhaps past the breaking point. The only way around this expected attack is to let a third party decide and let it be well known before the talks start. However even with that Thaksin will probably try to suggest a deal has been struck and that this is a charade. Leave it to Thaksin to be off truth as that too is another of his signatures.
The bottom line is this is a casualty waiting to happen, and it will be like giving Thaksin a loaded gun. The fallout from this could potentially cause Thailand’s government to fail and fall leaving Thaksin holding many of the cards. This is a place the Thai government does not want to go, but it must. The classic catch 22 is now called the Preah Vihear temple dispute.