In 1962, following a serious dispute between Thailand and Cambodia over ownership of the ‘Prasat Preah Vihear’ temple, the International Court of Justice in the Hague ruled that it belonged to Cambodia. However Thailand’s Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej and Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama have abused their constitutional powers involving the Preah Vihear Temple and it has once again become an international hotspot.
Both Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej and Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama are members of the People Power Party (PPP) and although the PPP has only been in power from early February, they have been consistent in ignoring the constitution. As a result this has become a point of contention and ironically there will be no waiting to answer for their indiscretions as they are both scheduled to appear before a house censure debate Tuesday and Wednesday this week. Although this is an international issue, the opponents of the PPP are taking full advantage of this sensitive political issue.
Noppadon Pattama before assuming the post of Foreign Minister was Chief mouth piece for Thaksin Shinawatra while Thaksin was in self imposed exile after being ousted by the September 2006 coup. Prior to that he was Thaksin’s chief lawyer and spent much of his time filing attack lawsuits for Thaksin. The fact that Noppadon is a Lawyer, he simply should have known better when it came to following the constitution.
Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej is also seen as a puppet to Thaksin, a fact he simply denied when he was questioned by the senate on Monday. Thaksin has become the poison pill to Thailand as any association with him simply draws fire. Even if there is no guilt, there is still guilt by association. Thaksin regularly if not always misrepresents things in exactly the opposite of what they are. Because of this, the guilt by association makes people feel that what is being said is also a lie and sheds great doubt on any sincerity.
Apparently Noppadon inked an acceptance agreement with Cambodia on the status of the Preah Vihear temple and Cambodia’s registration of Preah Vihear as a world heritage site. The Constitution simply does not empower the Foreign Minister to do this. Although when first looking at this it seems innocent enough as technically the Temple is entirely inside Cambodia and has been ruled by the International Court of Justice in the Hague that it belongs to Cambodia. However as there are still strong feelings in Thailand that disagree with that ruling, it has become fuel to attack the PPP. In recent days there has even been attacks on the lawyer that attended and represented Thailand’s interests in 1962.
With the marrying of the old angers of the 1962 ruling with the anger and hatred of Thaksin Shinawatra and the people associated with him, this looks to get a lot worse before it gets better.
A group of senators will submit their letter to Unesco Tuesday June 24 to express their opposition to Cambodia’s registration of Preah Vihear as a world heritage site. The senators would submit the letter to voice opposition to the registration on the grounds that the Thai government had not consulted its Parliament before endorsing the registration.