Saturday, 30 April 2011

Weekly highlights

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Published: 29/04/2011 at 12:12 PM
Online news: Local News

With the House dissolution yet to be announced, the Pheu Thai Party has already started electioneering with Thaksin Shinawatra announcing key policy platforms via a video link, but the fighting on the border between Thai and Cambodian forces stole the headlines.

The week-long artillery duels and the troop clashes along the border in Surin and Buri Ram provinces dominated the front pages of all newspapers and television news headlines almost the entire week, along with the brief skirmish around Preah Vihear in Si Sa Ket.

The two warring sides poured troops and heavy weaponry into the battle zone.

This latest outbreak of armed conflict, which centred on the old Ta Muen Kwai and Ta Muen Thom temple ruins, has cost the lives of seven Thai soldiers and one civilian, with dozens of others injured.

Just over 41,000 Thais were evacuate to temporary refuges as artillery shells hit many villages, and healthcare facilities were closed down in the area.

Casualties on the Cambodian side were not clear, although news agencies reported eight deaths, and the Thai army insisted that Cambodian casualties were many times higher than the Thai toll.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Army Commander-in-Chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha said separately that the Thai army would retaliate in kind against Cambodian attacks, whereas Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen accused Mr Abhisit of being a warmonger and said that Cambodia, although a smaller country than Thailand, could defeat Thailand, like an ant which can fell an elephant.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (left) shakes hands with his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen during the 4th Ayeyewady – Chao Phraya – Mekong Economic Cooperation (ACMECS) summit at the Council of Ministers in Phnom Penh on Nov 17, 2010. AFP PHOTO

It was not until Thursday that situation shows signs of improving when an uneasy ceasefire was worked out between Lt-Gen Thawatchai Samutsakhon, commander of the 2nd army region, and Lt-Gen Chea Mon, chief of Cambodia’s 4th army region, at a meeting at a border casino opposite Surin province.

However, more troop clashes occurred on Thursday night and into Friday morning, with one Thai soldier killed and four wounded.

Indonesia, the Asean chairman, has called on the two countries to exercise restraint and to observe a ceasefire. It has urged Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya to meet with his Cambodian counterpart, Hor Nam Hong, to discuss an end to the violence before Mr Abhisit has an expected meeting with Hun Sen at the sideline of the Asean summit in Jakarta on May 7-8.

On the local political front, election fever is taking hold even though Prime Minister Abhisit is yet to announce the House dissolution expected next week.

The opposition Pheu Thai Party appears to be most enthusiastic and has unofficially kick-started the electioneering with de facto party leader Thaksin Shinawatra addressing a party caucus and unveiling some of the party’s key policies, which include - one free tablet computor for every student; a huge floodwall to prevent Bangkok from being inundated, and reclaimation of land from the sea off the capital; a 300-baht minimum wage; corporate tax deductions for industries; and new railway mega projects.

Despite the five-year political ban he is still serving, and the jail sentence handed down by the court in absentia, the ousted former prime minister has decided to lead the party in the election campaign even if this means there is a risk the party itself may be dissolved as a result of his involvement.

He is also said to be the one who decides which party members will stand as candidates in the new single-seat constituencies, and which ones will make it onto the party list, and how high up.

About 200 people have already applied to stand on the party list. These are people hoping to be appointed, rather than elected, to the House under the proportional representation system. Among them are Olarn Chaiprawat and several red-shirt leaders. The list will however be shortlisted to not more than 125.

Thaksin has not disclosed who will be in the Number One slot on the party list. This candidate will be automatically in a position to become the next prime minister if the party wins more than half of the 500 seats in the House, or puts together a coalition government.

It has been widely speculated that Thaksin’s youngest sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, may be his choice for top position. There are other contenders however, including Pol Gen Pracha Promnok, former national police chief and former leader of the Puea Pandin Party, who recently joined the Pheu Thai Party.

Whereas Pheu Thai, the Democrats and most other smaller parties are well into preparations for the general election, the New Politics Party, the political arm of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), is in disarray.

Pressured by PAD hard-core leaders such as Sondhi Limthongkul and Chamlong Srimuang, the party members voted at an assembly not field any candidiates in the election. The party was also supposed to launch a campaign for viters to check the “no vote” box on their ballot papers.

A security officer points to the front seat of a sedan hit by a bomb blast in Pattani province on April 26, 2011. (Photo by Abdulloh Benjakat)

But New Politics Party leadeer Somsak Kosaisook remains defiant. He says it's the job of the executive to decide whether to run candidates or not. He has called a party executive board meetiong today, Friday, and he expected the board will overturn the decision to boycott the election.

Mr Somsak also described the PAD's urging of a “no vote” and postponement of a general election for several years as being undemocratic and tantamount to a coup d'etat, and he resigned his PAD membership.

In the far South, the seventh anniversary of the Krue Se mosque massacre on Thursday April 28 passed without any major incident.

The most violent action of the week was the motorcycle bomb attack on Pattani governor Niphon Narapitakkul in Pattani on Tuesday. Suspected militants detonated a stolen motorbike stuffed with about three kilos of explosives as the governor’s car passed by.

Shrapnel from the explosion punctured three of the vehicle's tyres and peppered the body, but the driver still accelerated away. Neither the governor nor anyone else in his delegation were hurt - but they were shaken up.

History points to negotiation as the only answer

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Published: 30/04/2011
Newspaper section: News

The continuing fighting between Cambodian and Thai troops along the porous and ill-defined border causes trouble and inconvenience for ordinary folks on both sides, not counting the deaths and injuries inflicted on soldiers, noted a Thai Rath editorial.

Thai Rath said folks on both sides had been living in peace with each other for a very long time. An example is Nong Chan village, Khok Sung district, Sa Kaeo province where villagers grow rice and raise animals peacefully on a common field with Cambodian farmers even though a definite border demarcation has yet to be settled. Village chiefs on both sides have pledged that once a definite border demarcation is established, any farm land that may extrude through the border line will be cut off from the original plot and taken possession of by the other side willingly without any protest.

It is true that the border disputes occur because both sides rely on different maps and thus claim ownership of disputed areas. When both sides allow politics to dictate their actions, it is inevitable that peaceful settlement is hard to reach. As long as definite demarcation is not implemented, border disputes can always occur, but they should not necessarily lead to skirmishes. Diplomatic means are still the best choice, advocated Thai Rath.

The current skirmishes at Ta Kwai and Ta Thom temples and previously at Preah Vihear temple have not only resulted in several deaths and injuries, the conflicts have also left a bitter legacy for future generations. The more the skirmishes go on, the harder it becomes to reach a border settlement. Thai Rath cited an example of the Sino-Vietnamese border war in February 1979 which resulted in about 26,000 deaths on the Chinese side while the Vietnamese death toll was 37,000 before both sides agreed to sign a formal border demarcation. This should provide a lesson that no matter how many troops die in border conflicts, the problem can only be settled through negotiation.

In the present circumstance, Thailand may find it difficult to hold bilateral talks with Cambodia to settle the conflict because Cambodia does not seem to want to talk without any intervention from a third party due to political reasons and the desire to own and manage 4.6 sq km of disputed area surrounding Preah Vihear temple. It is certainly the case that whenever there is a skirmish, the Cambodian government promptly sends a letter to request that the UN Security Council step in to mediate in the dispute. At the same time the Cambodian government whips up nationalistic fever among its people to rally for the people's support.

With no cooperation from the other side, it is no surprise that the Thai government has failed to bring peace to the border. Thai Rath sympathises with the Foreign Ministry in trying to convince the other side to sit at the negotiating table.

Both sides should know that battles can never settle the conflict. Eventually, both sides have to sit down and negotiate for peace and implement border demarcation. Isn't it wiser to do this sooner rather than let skirmishes go on and on and soldiers on both sides die in large numbers before agreeing to talk?

Thaksin bets all in bid to win election

Last week saw an all-out effort on the part of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was barred from politics for five years, to personally dictate Pheu Thai party's election policies in a live video feed from abroad on April 23. By doing so he risked the chance of Pheu Thai being dissolved for allowing a barred politician to get involved in the party's activities, noted Matichon.

Pheu Thai is different from other political parties in that there are not so many people in the executive committee (17) and that four had already resigned before Thaksin's live video-link appearance. So if the worst comes to worst, only 13 party executives could be barred from politics by the Constitution Court for five years.

It is not only Thaksin who is not afraid, his brother-in-law and former premier Somchai Wongsawat also are not. Mr Somchai has chaired several meetings of Pheu Thai MPs as well.

The all-out gamble by Thaksin in openly defying the 5-year ban from politics is seen by political pundits as worth the risk by personally taking charge. Thaksin can lead Pheu Thai to a win in the general election, scoring at least half the number of MPs in the House and then his sister Yingluck Shinawatra would become the first female prime minister of Thailand.

If it comes to pass that Pheu Thai is dissolved, only 13 insignificant executives will be barred from politics for five years. A spare party has already been registered with the Election Commission.

Veteran politician Chalerm Yubamrung explained that Pheu Thai must use the "Thaksin" name to sell its platform because the Thai people accept his capability and because his populist policies were successful. To make sure that people vote for the party, Pheu Thai must push Ms Yingluck as their prime ministerial candidate to represent Thaksin as no other politician can be said to be as loyal as Thaksin's own kin.

"If Pheu Thai do not use Thaksin's name as a selling point, who else can compete against Mr Abhisit? I have been thinking for two years now that Yingluck is most suitable as she is successful in running businesses. No need to deny that Yingluck is Thaksin's nominee because Pheu Thai, Thai Rak Thai and People Power Party all belong to Thaksin. Pheu Thai's headquarters is at OAI Tower. O is Oak [Thaksin's son], A is Aim, I is Ink [Thaksin's daughters]. Why should the party be afraid of being known as Thaksin's nominee?" Mr Chalerm said.

Even though during the live video link Thaksin did not openly anoint a real Pheu Thai leader, insiders unanimously say that Ms Yingluck is 99% sure to be the party's prime ministerial candidate.

Insiders also reveal that Thaksin has bet everything in openly dictating the party's general election strategies in a live video link because he deems that by personally declaring the party's policies, he can boost Pheu Thai's electoral victory chances. If Pheu Thai is to be dissolved, it would take time before all investigations and court cases reach their conclusion. By then, Pheu Thai could have formed a single-party or two-party coalition government headed by Ms Yingluck.

To boost the party's chances, Puea Paendin's leader Pol Gen Pracha Phromnok has been recruited. The departure of Mingkwan Saengsuwan, who is disappointed at not being anointed as the prime ministerial candidate, the resignation of Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh and the U-turn of Sanoh Thienthong do not worry Thaksin as the three are considered "outsiders", not Thaksin loyalists.

It seems that for Pheu Thai and its spare party, the party leader and executives are "cursed" positions that seasoned politicians would rather not get involved with. They prefer to be ordinary party members and run for MP seats with the chance to be a minister or prime minister, concluded Matichon.

Parties geared for polls

Thai politics is now gearing for the general election. The Election Commission has finished drawing up 375 single-MP constituencies in 77 provinces in line with the amended constitution. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has said again and again that he will dissolve the House of Representatives on May 6. Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra unveiled Pheu Thai party's election policies in a video link to the party faithful on April 24, reported Thai Rath.

The only hitch is the persistent rumour that the military would stage the coup, often claimed by UDD red shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan. However, Thai Rath discounted this rumour as long as Thai politicians do not create conditions/disturbances that allow the military to step in. If this happens, it will be a disaster in the eyes of the global community.

Since the new election method will be a single constituency (one man, one vote) and the party list MPs will be a countrywide constituency with no minimum percentage required to win a listed MP seat, several small political parties believe that they have a greater chance to win in some specific constituencies and that nationwide they can score one or two listed MPs. Moreover, they believe that they can join the coalition government and earn a cabinet seat or two even though they may lack MPs.

The only exception is the New Politics Party which was initially enthusiastic in joining the fray to contest the upcoming election. However, when news was confirmed that Mr Abhisit would soon dissolve the House and call for an early general election, the yellow shirts movement (People's Alliance for Democracy) leaders decided to boycott the election and urge the Thai people to cast a "No" vote as a protest against corrupt politicians. The yellow shirt leaders' stance caused a split within the PAD because some executives of the New Politics Party would like to contest the election but they could not oppose the majority in the party who follow the PAD leaders' instructions.

What is most prominent in the upcoming election is the two major parties, Pheu Thai and the Democrats constantly issuing populist policies to sell to the grass-roots. All in all, Thai Rath could not distinguish much between the two parties in terms of populist policies, but it seems that Pheu Thai had a slight edge because it was personally delivered by Thaksin himself.

What is common about the two major parties is that they want to court votes by offering short-term goodies instead of talking about policies that lead to the country's structural reforms in terms of power decentralisation, agriculture, water resources management, education, political reconciliation/conflict reduction and social inequality.

The two parties fail to address the issue of how to make the Thai people stand on their own feet without waiting for perpetual hand-outs from the state.

It is good that both major parties promise to help the farmers but this is aimed at courting votes in the short term. It will not turn Thailand into the "Kitchen of the World" because that would mean restructuring the whole agriculture sector, ranging from irrigated lands, what to produce, marketing, agri-industry development and water resources management.

Thai Rath wondered how the populist policies promised by both parties will be financed as it needs a very large budget outlay. The two parties don't dare to say specifically that taxes need to be raised to finance their various populist schemes as this would certainly create a backlash. When asked, they just say there is plenty in the fiscal reserves waiting to be tapped.

If both parties can only do this much, the real problems in Thailand can never be solved, Thai Rath said.

Cambodia: Pope Wojtyla, the image of a free man, says apostolic vicar to Phnom Penh

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Mgr Schmitthaeusler, in Rome for John Paul II’s beatification, stresses the late pontiff’s plea to “be free” and to “experience love as a gift”. The Church in Cambodia remembers him with affection. Thanks to him, Buddhist religious leader have a “positive view” of Catholicism. Bearing witness to ...

Friday, April 29, 2011
By Asia News

Rome – John Paul II was a “symbol and image of a free man”. Because he was free, “on several occasions he brushed aside official protocol”. He met many leaders, like Fidel Castro and General Jaruzelski, and bore witness to his faith, said Mgr Olivier Michel Marie Schmitthaeusler, apostolic vicar in Phnom Penh, as he spoke about the late pope.
Currently in Rome for the beatification ceremony of Polish-born pontiff, the French prelate, born in Strasbourg in 1970, said that the Cambodian Church is very much alive. In fact, this was an “exceptional” year, with 300 new baptisms, not to mention the quest for spirituality and religious meaning by many young people in the countryside.

Speaking to AsiaNews, the 41-year-old prelate shared some personal memories about John Paul II. He also talked about the Catholic Church in Cambodia, a nation that is “changing rapidly”, following the years of Khmer Rouge bloodshed and decades of socio-economic stagnation.

“The pope accompanied my life,” he noted, “from childhood to the priesthood. I saw in him to role model, the symbol of a free man.” The liveliest memory he has of the man is that of “shaking his hand” in Rome in 1987 “when I reached over the barrier to greet him”.

He saw him again at a youth meeting in Strasbourg’s Meinau Stadium. On that occasion, “he told us, ‘You are free’, ‘the love you receive is a gift’.” The, “a round of applause broke out, with people shouted his name repeatedly”.

For the Cambodian Church, the Polish-born pope is simply “John Paul”. Many Catholics “who never saw him in person, still mention his name with affection”.

Leaders of other religions liked him and still do, people like Phnom Penh’s Buddhist patriarch. “He has a negative view of Christianity,” the apostolic vicar said, “because of his contacts with Protestants. However, the meeting with John Paul II gave him a positive image of Catholics and the Church of Rome”.

We have prepared “images, posters and banners” to celebrate the beatification, the prelate said. There will also be “a power point presentation of his life in the local language”.

“We have translated the first part of the movie ‘Karol’, and are waiting for the second part,” he added. What is more, “all of our parishes and churches will hold moments of prayer for John Paul over the weekend. Vocations Day will be celebrated under his patronage.”

Speaking about the Church in Cambodia, Mgr Schmitthaeusler said that it might be small, but that this has been “an exceptional year, with 300 new baptisms, 137 just Phnom Penh”.

Most conversions were in the countryside where “young people are touched by the Word of God,” but for vocations, “more time is needed.”

As for proclaiming the Word, the “work of missionaries” is fundamental. They help local clergy, which is being re-established “after the massacres carried out by Pol Pot” in the 1970s.

Cambodian society still bears the scars left by the Khmer Rouge revolution, which sought to create a “new” man but ended up slaughtering a fourth of the population between 1975 and 1979.

An historical appraisal of those events is still hard to do because “Asian nations do not have a sense of history.” Even in Cambodia, “there is no culture of analysing the past” and provide a critical assessment that would help improve the present.

After many years of stagnation, the nation opened up to change in 2000. New technologies arrived, innovation took place and the economy began to grow.

“In Cambodia, we went from 0 to 10,” Mgr Schmitthaeusler said, “without any intermediate phases. For instance, if before we had no phones, now we have mobile phones, without building a land-based network.”

Unlike Thailand and Vietnam, which experienced “a more progressive development,” Cambodia saw “the destruction of spiritual life under Pol Pot”, followed “by rapid societal change” that must still be assimilated.

For this reason, the Catholic Church has “three main tasks,” the apostolic vicar said. First, it must proclaim Christ and his words. Second, it must be a force for liberation, stressing that life is priceless. And third, it must contribute to society’s development, focusing on education.

In fact, Mgr Schmitthaeusler has a long experience in the field of education, and played an important role in setting a new educational facility for rural or poor students (see “PIME missionary: Saint Paul Institute a centre of excellence for education in Cambodia,” in AsiaNews, 17 March 2010).

“For the country, intellectual and school training are of the essence, small steps that show hope,” the prelate said.

Source: Asia News

OVs in Cambodia celebrate 36th anniversary of Southern Liberation Day

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29/04/2011

(VOV) - The Overseas Vietnamese in Cambodia held a ceremony on April 29 to mark the 36th anniversary of Southern Liberation Day (April 30).

Addressing the ceremony, Tran Van Toi, President of the Overseas Vietnamese in Phnom Penh, stressed the need to promote revolutionary tradition and the glorious spirit of Southern Liberation Day. He urged overseas Vietnamese in Cambodia to strengthen solidarity, friendship and mutual affection with Cambodian people and authorities, abide by the laws of their host country, preserve Vietnam’s national identity, and integrate well in Cambodia.

On behalf of the Vietnamese community in Cambodia, Mr Toi highlighted great efforts made by the Vietnamese Party and State in providing active and effective assistance to Vietnamese communities in foreign countries, including the Vietnamese association in Cambodia, especially in making the association a strong and united body.

The event was attended by President of the Vietnamese Association in Cambodia Chau Van Thi, counselor Ha Quang Tuan and the Vietnamese embassy’s staff in Cambodia, 200 overseas Vietnamese delegates in Phnom Penh and the adviser to the Royal Government of Cambodia Liu An.

Thai, Cambodia cease-fire breaks; toll rises to 16

An injured Thai soldier rests at a hospital bed after clashes between Thai and Cambodia in Surin province, northeastern Thailand, Thursday, April 28, 2011. Artillery fire boomed across the Thai-Cambodian frontier for a seventh day Thursday as fierce border clashes erupted again between the two neighbors. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

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By Thanyarat Doksone and Sopheng Cheang
Associated Press / April 29, 2011

PRASAT, Thailand—Thai and Cambodian troops broke a brief cease-fire and clashed for an eighth day Friday, shattering hopes of a quick end to a long-running border conflict that has forced nearly 100,000 villagers to flee. The death toll rose to 16.

Fighting erupted in the morning and again briefly Friday night, both countries' troops said as displaced residents on each side waited to see if the worst skirmishes in years between the Southeast Asian neighbors might finally end.

"I wish both sides could talk, so that there is no more fighting," said Boonteung Somsed, a 58-year-old Thai construction worker who fled to the village of Prasat, about 20 miles (30 kilometers) from the border.

"Every time a soldier picks up a weapon," he said, "a village has to run away from home."

Thailand and Cambodia have clashed six times since 2008 over the border, where several crumbling Hindu temples built nearly 1,000 years ago during the Khmer Empire sit atop cliffs and in jungles mined in wars past. The land has been disputed for more than half a century, but analysts say domestic politics on both sides is driving the conflict as much as any real disagreement between the countries.

Field commanders agreed to the brief truce Thursday in a meeting at the disputed border. But Cambodian Col. Suos Sothea said the Thai army again fired artillery shells into Cambodia early Friday and small arms fire crackled anew around the Ta Krabey temple, which is in a disputed area.

"We cannot trust the Thais," he said. "Yesterday they said they'd stop fighting and now they are attacking us again."

Thai army spokesman Col. Sansern Kaewkamnerd said there had been light clashes late Thursday as well as early Friday. He blamed Cambodia for breaking the deal, saying its "local units might not agree to the talks as easily as their commanders did."

Sansern told reporters in Bangkok that the Thai army sent a 10-member delegation of middle-ranking officers across the border into Cambodia to meet with their counterparts again Friday on how to avoid further clashes. "The first step is to sustain the truce, then we can take further steps for talks," he said.

The director of Phanom Dongrak hospital, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) from the border, confirmed one Thai soldier was killed late Thursday, bringing the total dead to 15 soldiers and one civilian.

Thai authorities say the fighting has uprooted 51,000 people from their homes. Cambodia's Red cross says more than 45,000 people there have also fled over the past week.

"I want both countries to stop fighting, so that I can go home," said 37-year-old, Saman Yingnaram, a farmer in Prasat. "My cassava field will be sabotaged by (insects) by the time I return."

On Thursday, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said his Thai counterpart had agreed to allow Indonesian observers, but there was no word on when they would arrive. Cambodia had already agreed to the deployment.

Indonesia, which currently chairs the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, offered to provide the observers after the last round of fighting in February.

Few believe the conflict will lead to full-scale war and neither side appears to be trying to capture territory.

Some believe Thailand's military fears the possible outcome of elections expected in June or July and is trying to rally Thais behind it. Thai media have suggested Cambodia's Hun Sen, who has been in power since 1985, was fomenting border tensions to distract his public.

Both militaries have said they were merely defending against foreign aggression.

------

Sopheng Cheang reported from Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Associated Press writers Todd Pitman and Sinfah Tunsarawuth in Bangkok contributed to this report.

Thailand-Cambodia Ceasefire Ends Week of Bloodshed

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2011-04-29



After another night of heavy fighting, Thailand and Cambodia have finally agreed to a ceasefire.

It comes after a week of clashes in Southeast Asia's deadliest border dispute for years.

Both sides have agreed to closely monitor the ceasefire and are confident it will hold.

The sporadic fighting centred on two disputed 12th century Hindu temples which both countries claim fall within their territory.

At least 15 people were killed, scores wounded and thousands displaced during the fighting that involved the use of heavy artillery, guns and rocket fire.

Each side blamed the other for starting the conflict, which threatened to disrupt elections in Thailand, and raised doubts about Southeast Asia's ambitions to form an EU style community by 2015.

Thai-Cambodia border tense as Phnom Penh claims truce

Thai soldiers recover a rocket at the disputed Thai-Cambodian border. (AFP Photo/Pornchai Kittiwongsakul)

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30 April 2011

PHANOM DONG RAK, Thailand: Heavy weapons fire pounded the Thai-Cambodian border for an eighth day on Friday as Bangkok denied claims from Phnom Penh of a truce to end the countries' bloodiest conflict in decades.

The Cambodian defence ministry announced a peace deal on Friday, after clashes on the disputed jungle frontier shattered a previous short-lived ceasefire.

Thailand's government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn confirmed discussions between commanders on the ground but said no deal had been reached.

"We actually have talked at local officers' level which I hope will lead to a real ceasefire," he said.

He added the country was "disappointed" with a resumption of fighting after Thursday's truce, in which one Thai soldier was killed and six more wounded.

Clashes around two ancient temple complexes have now left 16 people dead and caused about 85,000 people to flee from their homes.

Cambodian field commander Suos Sothea told AFP on Friday evening that the situation was "calm so far but we are still on alert".

He added that he remained wary of Thai troops "because they talk but they keep attacking us".

According to the Cambodian statement, commanders from both sides agreed Friday to "a cessation of the firing" as well as to halt troop movements.

They also "promised to meet in person or be in contact over the phone" every two days to prevent further skirmishes, it added.

Colonel Preeda Butraj, a spokesman for the Thai army in the country's northeast, dismissed Cambodia's truce claims as "unreliable and untrustworthy".

"We have to wait and see what the situation is like day by day," he said.

Each side has blamed the other for sparking the fighting, which has stopped and started periodically over the past week.

Thai and Cambodian commanders had resolved at Thursday's talks to reopen border gates and "create a climate to allow civilians to return home", according to the Cambodian defence ministry.

On Friday Cambodia said it had asked the World Court to clarify a 1962 ruling about territory around the ancient Preah Vihear temple - an area that has inflamed tensions between the two neighbours.

The current clashes are centred around two temple complexes 150 kilometres west of Preah Vihear, although there was some fighting at the site itself on Tuesday.

Seven Thai troops and eight Cambodian soldiers have died since the clashes began on April 22, and Bangkok has said a Thai civilian has also been killed.

Heavy weapons fire has strayed towards villages around the frontier, causing nearly 50,000 people in Thailand and around 35,000 in Cambodia to flee their homes.

Phnom Penh claims that Thailand used spy planes and poison gas during the conflict - allegations denied by Bangkok.

The countries have come under increasing international pressure to stop the violence.

The Thai-Cambodian border has never been fully demarcated, partly because it is littered with landmines left over from years of war in Cambodia.

Preah Vihear has been the focus of border tensions since it was granted UN World Heritage status in 2008 and 10 people died in clashes between the neighbours there in February.

The World Court ruled in 1962 that the 900-year-old temple belonged to Cambodia, but both countries claim ownership of a 4.6-square-kilometre surrounding area.

Cambodia said a clarification by the court was of "the utmost necessity... in order to peacefully and definitely settle the boundary problem between the two countries in the area".

Thailand said it had hired legal advisors and would fight the case.

- AFP/de

CRS Helps Families Caught in Thai-Cambodia

http://reliefweb.int/node/399277

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29 Apr 2011.

Fighting along the Thailand-Cambodia border has displaced tens of thousands of people, many of whom are staying in schools or pagodas. With funding from CRS and other groups, Caritas Cambodia is providing relief supplies to over 7000 families.

As fighting on the border between Thailand and Cambodia continues, Catholic Relief Services and its local partner, Caritas Cambodia, are aiding thousands of families who had to flee shelling. “Many families who left their homes are living in schools and pagodas, and the conditions there are very poor,” says Lionel Lajous, CRS’ Regional Technical Advisor for emergencies in Asia. “We’re working with the government to get them into camps where we can better provide for their needs.”

With CRS support, Caritas began helping the first wave of displaced people in February 2011. Caritas has intensified its efforts in the wake of this week’s fighting, and will provide rice, tents, and clean water in the camps. “The rainy season is starting here, and there can be heavy downpours,” says Greg Auberry, who is Country Representative for CRS in Southeast Asia and is based in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. “The tents will provide better protection than, say, plastic sheeting, and will also help fight mosquitoes.”

Caritas is also helping families in the camps access medical care and training them to practice good hygiene. “We want to avoid outbreaks of illness,” says Auberry.

“What our Caritas partners are hearing is that this situation continues to deteriorate,” he continues. “These families may not be able to go home for some time, and they are going to need our help.”

Broken ceasefire leaves trust in tatters

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Hun Sen's sincerity is doubted by military

Published: 30/04/2011
Newspaper section: News

The government has voiced disappointment over the clashes at the Thai-Cambodian border which broke out only 10 hours after a ceasefire agreement was reached.

The fighting prompted a joint press conference between the army, the government and the Foreign Ministry.

"Thailand is very disappointed about the clashes that show Cambodia's insincerity despite the fact that the field troops of both sides had agreed to a ceasefire," said acting government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn.

"The government insists on its stance that the ceasefire must be strictly observed before further talks are pursued. The prime minister has made it clear he is happy to hold a dialogue. But if the situation doesn't improve, a dialogue will not be as useful as it is supposed to," he said. Both sides agreed to a truce as of 12pm on Thursday after talks between the 2nd Army's Lt Gen Thawatchai Samutsakhon and Lt Gen Chea Mon, chief of the Cambodian 4th Region Army, at a casino at the Chong Jom-O Samet checkpoint in Surin's Kap Choeng district.

However around 9.30pm the same day, fighting with rifles and hand-grenades erupted and lasted for an hour. A second round of fighting reportedly took place at 2am yesterday and ended at 6am.

One Thai soldier was killed and four injured, increasing the total deaths on the Thai side to eight, including one civilian, after continuous clashes erupted on April 22.

Cambodia has reported that at least eight of its troops have been killed.

Gunfire was confirmed near Ta Kwai temple last night.

"Cambodian troops attacked first by firing rifles and throwing grenades at us," army commander Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha said yesterday.

"We just responded to their attack with rifles but if it happens again we will have to retaliate further," he said, adding the talks on Thursday were not some sort of commitment.

Gen Prayuth revealed that Cambodian military commanders had made contact following the fighting and agreed to uncover why the agreed ceasefire had been broken.

The army chief said that Cambodia intends to use the border skirmishes to internationalise the border disputes.

He added that bilateral talks are the preferable way to resolve the border conflict, but noted that if a third party has to be involved there is nothing he can do about it.

"I'm not sure if [Cambodian prime minister] Hun Sen has sincerity, I don't know what he is thinking. We can't change him," said Gen Prayuth.

Army spokesman Col Sansern Kaewkamnerd said there could be a communication breakdown among Cambodian troops.

"If we look on the bright side, it might be a communication problem because the commander in charge of the area where the fighting erupts is not Lt Gen Chea Mon," he said.

However, he added that a group of 10 military officers was dispatched early yesterday to discuss how to avoid further clashes.

Col Sansern insisted that further steps to negotiations were out of the question as long as the border fighting continued.

Second Army Region spokesman Prawit Hookaew said yesterday the incident was not an actual breach of the ceasefire agreement because the talks had been informal.

"It can't guarantee there will be no more fighting. They wanted field commanders to make contact immediately when any clash erupted to contain the situation," he said.

Meanwhile, Cambodia has accused Thai troops of initiating the fighting.

The resumption of hostilities so soon after a peace deal demonstrated the "pointlessness of bilateral negotiations", said the Cambodian government, which has continuously campaigned for a third party to be involved.

"Less than 12 hours [after the agreement] the Thai military again attacked, and fighting continued until the next morning," it said.

A Thai government source at the border noted that the Thai military might have talked to the wrong people.

Lt Gen Chea Mon does not have "real" power over the troops in the combat areas, said the source.

The areas where the border skirmishes have taken place for the past week are under the jurisdiction of deputy army commander Gen Chim Janpua, according to the source.

Local villagers in Ban Nong Danna on Surin's Phanom Dong Rak district said yesterday they heard the sound of sporadic gunfire throughout Thursday night. However they said there was no artillery shelling.

Chong Jom checkpoint in Surin's Kap Choeng district remained closed yesterday and trading was limited.

Cambodia Seeks Court Ruling on Dispute With Thailand

Ron Corben, VOA Khmer
Bangkok Friday, 29 April 2011

via CAAI

Photo: AP
A man walks through rubles at the destroyed silk factory following the clash between Thailand and Cambodia in Surin province, northeastern Thailand, April 27, 2011.

"It was laying the path, laying the ground work for their decision to submit a request to the International Court of Justice."

Cambodia has called on the International Court of Justice to review a 1962 judgment over a disputed ancient Hindu temple along the Thai border. The move follows renewed fighting that broke an hours-old ceasefire.

In a submission to the International Court of Justice, Cambodia calls for an interpretation a 50-year-old ruling that gave the 11th century temple to Cambodia.

Cambodian Foreign Affairs Spokesman Koy Kuong announced the move Friday in Phnom Penh.

The spokesman says his government wants the court to interpret the 1962 decision that gave Preah Vihear to Cambodia. He says that ruling was based on a map that is recognized by the international community.

The border around the temple, known as Preah Vihear in Cambodia and Phra Viharn in Thailand, has remained in dispute despite the 1962 decision. The temple is most easily accessed from Thai territory, and Bangkok claims ownership of the land near it.

Cambodia announced its appeal to the international court hours after new fighting along the border broke a ceasefire agreement. Both sides blamed the other for the clash

The ceasefire agreement reached on Thursday aimed to end a week of fighting, which has claimed at least 16 lives and forced tens of thousands of villagers from both countries to flee homes near the border.

The Thai government thinks the latest clashes are linked to Cambodia’s move to petition the International Court of Justice. Thani Thongphakdi is a Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman:

"From our perspective I think this puts all the jigsaw pieces in place," said Thani Thongphakdi. "What the Cambodian side has been doing since it had been initiating these conflicts along the border. It was laying the path, laying the ground work for their decision to submit a request to the International Court of Justice."

The countries have fought sporadically along the border since 2008, when Cambodia obtained World Heritage status for the Hindu temple. That angered many Thai nationalists, and both sides increased military patrols along the border.

It is not clear what started the latest fighting. Regional political analysts, however, say that domestic politics on both sides makes it hard to resolve the dispute. In Cambodia, they say, it appears Prime Minister Hun Sen benefits by appearing tough against a larger neighbor, and it is possible he hopes that elections expected in Thailand later this year will allow his friend, former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, to return to power.

On the other side, the analysts say, Thailand’s powerful military commanders may hope a crisis along the border will provide an excuse to call off elections, and keep a new government from shaking up the senior ranks.

The border issue is set to be raised at a summit of leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to be held in Jakarta next month. Thailand says the summit may lead to talks between Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Cambodia’s Hun Sen "if conditions are right".

Cambodia, Thai Commanders Reach Cease-Fire Agreement

Brian Padden, VOA
Jakarta, Indonesia Friday, 29 April 2011

via CAAI

Photo: AP
An injured Thai soldier on a stretcher is helped to board a helicopter to be transferred to a hospital following the clashes between Thailand and Cambodia in Surin province, northeastern Thailand, April 28, 2011.

"Basically the two sides must be saved from themselves, because we are now in this cycle of one says this, the other says that."

Cambodia and Thailand moved closer to ending the fighting on their border with reports of a cease-fire agreement. Indonesian officials have worked to mediate in the dispute, which has left at least 15 people dead and forced thousands on both sides of the border to flee their homes.

After seven days of trading artillery fire, Cambodian officials said military commanders in the field had reached a cease-fire agreement.

Lieutenant General Chhum Socheat, a spokesman for the Cambodian Ministry of Defense, said Thursday that the agreement includes several elements, among them - allowing villagers along the border to return to their homes and reopening border crossings.

The general says the ceasefire has started, and that the agreement includes having soldiers on both sides remain on stand-by on their bases. In addition, he says, it aims to encourage field commanders to build a relationship that helps them communicate if problems come up.

But in Bangkok, Thai Army spokesman Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd says any agreement made by field commanders must also be agreed to at the highest levels of each government before it is official.

He says there has been no official announcement yet but that all Thai troops are currently within Thailand's sovereign territory.

The two neighbors have fought sporadically for two years over their poorly marked border. Both sides blame the other for starting the clashes this month.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, in his role as head of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, negotiated a ceasefire between the two neighbors in February, the last time the two sides fought. After meeting Thursday with Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, Natalegawa says trust has broken down on both sides.

"Basically the two sides must be saved from themselves, because we are now in this cycle of one says this, the other says that. Mutual recrimination and mutual accusation. Precisely the kind of a vicious circle that we have been trying to reverse," Natalegawa said.

He says news of the cease-fire, if true, is encouraging and that both sides must realize the only way to resolve this conflict is through diplomacy.

"We need to rebuild trust, rebuild confidence," Natalegawa explained. "But the simple question is, ‘What is the alternative? How far are they willing to go? How many more days of conflict? How many more people to be killed, to lose their lives?"

The last cease-fire called for Indonesian observers along the border but the Thai military rejected that idea. Natalegawa says Thailand must allow observers to ensure peace.

The conflict is the worst among ASEAN members in decades. The two countries have long disputed parts of their border, which is poorly marked, and sections of it have been littered with land mines since the Indochina war in the 1960s.

Tensions rose in 2008 after Cambodia received United Nations World Heritage status for an ancient Hindu temple just on its side of the border. Thailand and Cambodia dispute control over some of the land around that temple and nationalists on both sides have urged their governments to take tough action against the other. It is not clear, however, what caused fighting to break out earlier this month.

Film Highlights Potential Harm of Mekong Dams

Pich Samnang, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh Thursday, 28 April 2011
 
via CAAI
 
Photo: Courtesy of Tom Fawthrop
An extraction from the documentary "Where Have All the Fish Gone? Killing the Mekong Dam by Dam" shows a massive dam under construction on a stretch of the Mekong river in China.

“If the Mekong is destroyed, the fishery, according to estimates, will be reduced by something like between 40 percent to 60 percent.”

A documentary showing the possible impacts of hydropower dams on the Mekong was screened in Phnom Penh Tuesday night, a week after Mekong countries failed to decide on a dam proposed in Laos.

About 200 people, most of them students, watched the film, “Where Have All the Fish Gone?: Killing the Mekong Dam by Dam,” which was directed by journalist Tom Fawtrop and screened at Pannasastra University in the capital.

The 23-minute film shows a massive hydropower dam under construction in China and street protests in Bangkok over another 11 proposed dams on the lower Mekong.

Officials from the Mekong River Commission, from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, ended meetings last week over a dam proposed in Xayaburi province, Laos, after failing to decide whether it could be built. More meetings over the dam are expected later this year.

Fawtrop said Tuesday he wanted the film to draw attention to the plans for dams on the Mekong that would “destroy one of the world’s greatest rivers just for the sake of generating electricity.”

The dams could have “huge costs,” he said, “loss of fishery, loss of environment, loss of biodiversity.”

“If the Mekong is destroyed, the fishery, according to estimates, will be reduced by something like between 40 percent to 60 percent,” he said.

At least eight hydroelectric dams have been proposed on the upper Mekong, with three already operational and at least one other under construction in China. Another 11 dams including the Xayaburi have been planned downstream.

The film was shot from locations in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam over three and a half months between 2010 and 2011 and includes numerous interviews with environmental experts who warn of unpredictable impacts on people and the environment were the dams to be built.

Fawtrop said the dams, if built, would have a huge impact on Cambodia, where the majority of people depend on the river for their daily protein.

“The economists working for the government and working in various ministries have completely failed to do any homework at all,” he said. “They can tell you how much electricity we can get, but they can’t tell you how many fish we will lose.”

“And a politician who wants to build the dams for political reasons may tell everybody, ‘Oh, the dam is good for your health,’ when it is actually very bad for the health of the fish and the health of the people and the health of a nation,” he said.

Up to 600,000 tons of fish each year could be at risk from dam construction, 35 percent of that in Cambodia, according to an environmental assessment by the Mekong River Commission.

Touch Seang Tana, chairman of Cambodia's Commission for Conservation and Development of the Mekong River Dolphin Eco-Tourism Zone, said the Mekong’s Irrawady dolphins would also be at risk from dam construction.

“If built, the dams will seriously affect natural dolphins because they eat fish,” he told VOA Khmer after viewing the film. “When there are no fish, how can dolphins survive?”

He estimated between 155 and 175 dolphins to be living along the stretch of the Mekong in Kratie province, which are a draw for tourists.

“If there is dam construction as the video shows, I think the river will lose its authenticity in the future, providing no more natural resources like fish, a good environment and a fantastic landscape,” said Ing Sethearin, a university student, after the film.

Lower Mekong countries like Cambodia must choose wisely between their food needs and their energy needs, she said.

Sam Rainsy Party Plans Screening of Chea Vichea Film

Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh Friday, 29 April 2011

via CAAI

Photo: Courtesy of the Producers of "Who Killed Chea Vichea?"
A scene from the documentary "Who Killed Chea Vichea?" Chea Vichea, a popular Cambodian union leader, was assassinated on January 22, 2004 in Phnom Penh.

“And we must remember his bravery in struggling and demanding the rights of workers."

The Sam Rainsy Party has scheduled a screening of a controversial film about slain labor leader Chea Vichea at its party headquarters for International Labor Day, May 1.

“Who Killed Chea Vichea?” is sharply critical of a police investigation that followed the 2004 murder of the activist and the subsequent jailing of two men widely considered innocent.

Authorities have banned a public screening of the film, calling it illegal.

However, SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua said Friday the screening was an important opportunity for workers to understand the death of Chea Vichea.

Party president Sam Rainsy will also speak to workers via video conference, she said.

“We must find justice for the late Chea Vichea,” she said. “And we must remember his bravery in struggling and demanding the rights of workers.

Chea Vichea was the charismatic leader of the powerful Free Trade Union of Workers before he was gunned down outside a newspaper kiosk in Phnom Penh in 2004. His brother, Chea Mony, assumed his mantel.

“This film screening is a message to workers that we must struggle,” Chea Mony said Friday. “We must sacrifice, and then we will get our legal rights.”

Sam Rainsy Party headquarters are not a public place, but Khieu Sopheak, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said the party “should not make trouble” while Cambodia is engaged in a border conflict with Thailand.

Team will fight border case in ICJ

http://www.bangkokpost.com/

via CAAI

Published: 29/04/2011
Online news: Asia

A Thai legal team has been set up to fight the border case in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in response to Cambodia's petition that the court interpret its judgement of 1962 on Preah Vihear temple to clarify the territorial boundary between Thailand and Cambodia, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Friday.

The Cambodian Foreign Ministry announced today that it has sought the ICJ's interpretation of its judgement on Preah Vihear temple, accusing Thailand of repeated aggression in attempts to claim Cambodian territory.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (Photo by Pattanapong Hirunard)

Mr Abhisit said Cambodia's move is not beyond expectations and a legal team has been set up to fight the case.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said Thailand is waiting for the ICJ to officially notify it of the Cambodian petition.

He said the application made by Cambodia to the ICJ is not unexpected, judging by Cambodia's acts of agression against Thailand during the past week.

Cambodia wanted to use the border clashes as a reason to bring the territorial issue to the ICJ, Mr Thani said.

"Thailand has been prepared for this. We have studied the issue and hired a team of lawyers to handle it.

"Thailand is of the opinion that resolving the conflict through bilateral talks is the best option, but Cambodia has turned to the ICJ."

This indicated that Cambodia does not attach much importance to talks under the Asean framework, Mr Thani said.

The spokesman said he expected the ICJ to officially notify Thailand of the Cambodian petition in one or two days.

After receiving the official notification from the ICJ, Thailand will thoroughly study Cambodia's request.

Mr Thani said that under normal procedure he would expected the ICJ to take about three weeks to decide whether to accept the petition for further proceedings.

If the case were accepted for consideration, the court may take one or two years to go through the related documents, Mr Thani said.

Meanwhile, 2nd Army spokesman Prawit Hukaew said local Cambodian military leaders have apologised for the clashes overnight, which claimed the life of a Thai soldier, and promised the ceasefire will not be breached again.

Col Prawit said the clashes happened even though Lt-Gen Tawatchai Samutsakhon, the 2nd Army commander, and Lt-Gen Chea Mon, the 4th Army Region chief of Cambodia, agreed verbally on Thursday to a ceasefire.

The fighting started at 8.55pm in the area east of Ta Kwai temple, on the border in Surin, and lasted about one hour, during which both sides used only small arms.

The exchange of fire resumed at 2am and continued to 5.30am on Friday, resulting in one Thai ranger killed and five wounded, he said.

Col Prawit said a factor which might have triggered the firefight was that the two sides, which were on high alert, were only 50 to 200 metres apart and ready to shoot on seeing or hearing anything suspicious.

An inability to keep their troops under control and miscommunication on the part of the Cambodian military commanders might be another cause, he said. Some Cambodian soldiers might also still be overwhelmed with hatred and anger and wanted to vent it, he said.

Col Prawit said the local Cambodian military leaders had contacted the Thai side to apologise, saying that the clashes arose from misunderstandings. They promised not to let this happen again, he added.

The spokesman said, however, that nobody could guarantee there would not be a recurrence of the "misunderstanding."

The talks between Lt-Gen Tawatchai and Lt-Gen Chea Mon had at least reduced the intensity of the fighting to only use of small arms, not heavy weapons, he said.

Col Prawit was optimistic that if this trend continued the situation could possibly return to normal in a week.

Villagers who have been evacuated to safety would not be allowed to return home until the situation had really returned to normal, he said.

Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, the army chief, said he had been briefed on the latest clashes by Lt-Gen Tawatchai, the 2nd Army chief.

He said what Lt-Gen Tawatchai and Lt-Gen Chea Mon agreed on was not a commitment and he never been certain there would be no more fighting.

Gen Prayuth said on Thursday night high-level military officers of the two countries talked on the telephone about the shooting, and the Cambodians said they would find out why it happened.

He said what happened was an attempt by Cambodia to raise the conflict internationally to the level of Asean and the United Nations.

Team will fight border case in ICJ

http://www.bangkokpost.com/

via CAAI

Published: 29/04/2011 at 03:50 PM
Online news:

A Thai legal team has been set up to fight the border case in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in response to Cambodia's petition that the court interpret its judgement of 1962 on Preah Vihear temple to clarify the territorial boundary between Thailand and Cambodia, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Friday.

The Cambodian Foreign Ministry announced today that it has sought the ICJ's interpretation of its judgement on Preah Vihear temple, accusing Thailand of repeated aggression in attempts to claim Cambodian territory.

Mr Abhisit said Cambodia's move is not beyond expectations and a legal team has been set up to fight the case.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said Thailand is waiting for the ICJ to officially notify it of the Cambodian petition.

He said the application made by Cambodia to the ICJ is not unexpected, judging by Cambodia's acts of agression against Thailand during the past week.

Cambodia wanted to use the border clashes as a reason to bring the territorial issue to the ICJ, Mr Thani said.

"Thailand has been prepared for this. We have studied the issue and hired a team of lawyers to handle it.

"Thailand is of the opinion that resolving the conflict through bilateral talks is the best option, but Cambodia has turned to the ICJ."

This indicated that Cambodia does not attach much importance to talks under the Asean framework, Mr Thani said.

The spokesman said he expected the ICJ to officially notify Thailand of the Cambodian petition in one or two days.

After receiving the official notification from the ICJ, Thailand will thoroughly study Cambodia's request.

Mr Thani said that under normal procedure he would expected the ICJ to take about three weeks to decide whether to accept the petition for further proceedings.

If the case were accepted for consideration, the court may take one or two years to go through the related documents, Mr Thani said.

Thailand ready to fight in World Court: Foreign Ministry

http://www.mcot.net/

via CAAI

BANGKOK, April 29 - Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday said the country is prepared to fight its case to resolve the ongoing border dispute in the World Court after its neighbour Cambodia appealed to the court to clarify its 1962 ruling about the ancient Preah Vihear temple.

Thai foreign ministry spokesman Thani Thongpakdi made his remarks following the latest move of the Cambodian government in bringing the Thai-Cambodian border conflict to the World Court after the clashes continued for eight days.

The move came after the Cambodian government issued a statement saying it had requested "interpretation of the Court's judgment... concerning the temple of Preah Vihear" was prompted by "Thailand's repeated armed aggression to exert its claims to Cambodian territory."

A Cambodian government spokesman was quoted by Agence France Presse news agency saying "We especially want clarification about the vicinity around the temple. Thailand is using unilateral maps to claim our territory."

Thai spokesman Thani however said the accusation is simply Cambodia's point of view, and no more, and that the neighbour's move was not unexpected by Thailand.

Mr Thani said the Cambodian troops intrusion beginning last Friday is believed to pave the way for Cambodia to bring the issue to the International Court of Justice.

"The Thai foreign ministry is well prepared. Legal advisors have been hired to handle the case, but we continue to believe that the border dispute should be solved at the bilateral level," the Thai spokesman said.

"What Cambodia is doing means it overlooks the importance of regional cooperation and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)," Mr Thani said.

Mr Thani said the ministry is now awaiting the text Cambodia's complaint and will study it thoroughly. It is believed that the court will forward the document to Thailand soon.

"However it may take year or two, or more, for the court's consideration. We still must see whether the court will accept the case or not," he said

The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that Preah Vihear temple belonged to Cambodia, although its primary entrance lies in Thailand.

The historic structure has long been a point of contention between the two Asian neighbours as the exact boundary through the surrounding grounds remains in dispute, with occasional military skirmishes having claimed a number of lives.

The latest clashes erupted last Friday near Ta Kwai temple in Surin’s Phanom Dong Rak district and the fighting spread to nearby Si Sa Ket province, forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands of local residents for their safety.

The Thai army reported Cambodian troops first fired on Thai soldiers and that Thailand was obliged to retaliate to protect the country's sovereignty. (MCOT online news)

Vietnamese and Cambodia provinces join efforts to control wildlife trading

http://english.vovnews.vn/

via CAAI

Leaders of southeastern Tay Ninh province and its sister Cambodian province Kam Pong Cham have signed an action plan on controlling the trading of wild fauna and flora species between the two provinces.

The signing took place at a two-day seminar on the issue that wrapped up in Tay Ninh on April 28.

Under the plan, both sides will set up an information exchange system and conduct joint patrols along the common border to control illegal wildlife hunting, transport and trading.

They will provide mutual assistance and jointly conduct investigations into violations of international laws on wildlife protection.

Both sides agreed to mobilise the necessary sources to prevent forest fires, preserve biodiversity and control illegal wildlife hunting, transport and trading.

The two sides will jointly disseminate their countries’ policies on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, in order to raise the awareness of people living along the border of the negative impacts of illegal wildlife hunting and smuggling.

At the seminar, participants shared their concerns over complex cross-border illegal wildlife trading, saying that the Tay Ninh-Kam Pong Cham route is the hot site of the issue.

Illegal wildlife traders have formed into a transnational crime syndicate using modern facilities to prevent the two countries’ joining efforts to control wildlife trading.

VOVNews/VNA

MFTransparency launches updated pricing data for Cambodia

http://www.microfinancefocus.com/

via CAAI

Microfinance Focus April 29, 2011: MicroFinance Transparency, MFTransparency, an international non-governmental organization recently published an updated pricing data for Cambodia for 2010, building on the original dataset published in 2009.

Cambodia was one of the initial countries where MFTransparency collected true-cost microloan product pricing data and is the first country worldwide to complete the data updating process.

While any MFI reporting to MFTransparency can update its pricing data at any time, microfinance institution in all countries are required to update their data on an annual basis. Fourteen MFIs in Bosnia are currently in the process of completing their updated data submissions. Peru will be the next country to undergo the updating process.

MFTransparency will soon host a webinar where pricing experts will share the initial results of the newly available trend analysis on microloan pricing in Cambodia.

MicroFinance Transparency was founded in 2008 with the purpose of facilitating transparent markets through pricing disclosure, education and policy advisory. MFTransparency represents an industry movement toward transparent practices and responsibility. Based in the United States, the group has organized transparent pricing efforts in India, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Rwanda, South Africa, Ghana, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin, Mali, Niger, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, Colombia and Peru.

Cambodia appeals to World Court for verdict explanation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/

via CAAI

By Xinhua

Cambodia on Thursday submitted a request to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for the interpretation of the Court's judgment of 1962 on the case of Preah Vihear temple, according to the statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on Friday.

"The submission of this request has been prompted by Thailand's repeated armed aggression to exert its claims to Cambodian territory, on the basis of its own unilateral map that has no legal basis," Xinhua news agency quoted the statement as saying.

It added that Cambodia also submitted a request to the ICJ to take conservatory measures, in light of the repeated acts of aggression against Cambodian territory by Thailand's armed forces.

"Cambodia considers conservatory measures as unavoidable for engendering a permanent ceasefire between the two countries, thus stopping the loss of lives and preserving the temple of Preah Vihear from serious damages, until the interpretation of the ICJ' s 1962 judgment is finalized," said the statement.

The border between Thailand and Cambodia has never been completely demarcated.

The International Court of Justice awarded Preah Vihear temple to Cambodia in 1962.

The temple was enlisted as a World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008. But Thailand claims the ownership of 4.6 square kilometers (1.8 square miles) of scrub next to the temple.

Just a week after the enlistment, Cambodia and Thailand had a border conflict, triggering a military build-up along the border, and periodic clashes between Cambodian and Thai soldiers have resulted in deaths of troops on both sides.