It’s a mistake for the Royal Government of Cambodia not to take the Thai invasion of Preah Vihear to the World Court or UN Security Council. This should have done the first day when Thai troops invaded Cambodia on July 15, 2008. Prolonging the Thai illegal occupation of Cambodian land creates a misconception in the world that there is a border dispute between the two counties; which in fact, there is none and was final 48 years ago. Cambodia has a long close relationship with China, France, and Russia as her allies. All are permanent members of the UN and if necessary will assist Cambodia in the legal battle against the naked Thai aggression.Op-Ed: Khmer Surin
Forty-eight years after the International Court of Justice rendered its decision regarding Preah Vihear Temple on June 15, 1962, Thailand continues to blindly disobey the World Court's decision and distort the truth in an attempt regain the Khmer cultural heritage as belonging to Thailand. Thailand had 10 years to appeal the case up till 1972. Since 1962 up to the present, the Thai government had no new evidence to contest the case. It went dormant for 40 years until Cambodia initially tried to apply for a UNESCO World Heritage status on June 28, 2002 in Budapest, Hungary. Thailand wanted to be a joint applicant for the listing of Preah Vihear temple, an idea Cambodia adamantly could not accept. To do so would be like sharing one’s wife with a neighbor. On July 8, 2008, the World Heritage Committee at the 32nd session of the Committee in Quebec City, Canada, decided to add Prasat Preah Vihear as "Outstanding Universal Value", along with 26 other sites, to the World Heritage Site list, despite several protests from Thailand. Since then, the Abhisit government continues to oppose and undermine the listing.
The Cambodia-Thailand border had been clearly defined in the Franco-Siamese treaties of 1904-07 as noted in the Annex I map. There is no border dispute or overlapping 4.6 km2 areas or other grey areas along 803-km long border between the two kingdoms. Many Thai newspapers and broadcasting media intentionally distort the facts that the court ruled only the temple as belonging to Cambodia but not the adjacent land. The Abhisit government even told the press that the world court ruled only the stone temple, but not the land beneath the temple or adjacent land. This is an erroneous idea and simply NOT true per ICJ verdict of June 15, 1962.
Thai media also distorted the fact that Preah Vihear temple is a Hindu temple instead of a Khmer Buddhist temple. The Preah Vihear temple was built in 9th century and into 10th century A.D by Khmer King Suryavarman I and Suryavarman II and it was dedicated to Hindu god Shiva and his manifestations as the mountain gods Sikharesvara and Bhadresvara. As Hinduism declined in the region, it was gradually converted to use by Buddhists in the 12th century A.D. In essence, the temple became a Buddhist shine on top of 525 m cliff for over eight hundred years. Bear in mind that the first Thai kingdom of Sukhothai was established around (1238 till 1438), some three hundred years later. The reasoning behind the Thai media to use the term ‘Hindu temple’ instead of a ‘Khmer Buddhist temple’ is obvious. It would give the Thais a chance to claim something that is not theirs.
Under the Samak administration, Thailand confirmed its decision, as expressed at the 31st Session of the World Heritage Committee held in Christchurch (New Zealand, 23 June to 2 July 2007), to support the inscription of the Sacred Site of the Temple of Preah Vihear. In doing so, Thailand had hoped that the adjacent land is still under Thai jurisdiction. During Samak Sundaravej’s first state visit to Phnom Penh on 3 and 4 March 2008 at the invitation of Prime Minister Hun Sen. A month later, the Thai delegation led by foreign minister Noppadon Pattama, in the presence of a number of UNESCO eminent members, led by the Deputy Director General of UNESCO for Culture, Mrs. Françoise Rivere reviewed the joint communiqué for the inscription of Preah Vihear temple. The Kingdom of Thailand reconfirmed its support for the inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List at the 32nd Session of the World Heritage Committee which was held in Quebec, Canada in July 2008. For its part, the Kingdom of Cambodia, in a spririt of goodwill and conciliation, accepted to inscribe the Temple of Preah Vihear on the List of the World Heritage, at this stage, without a buffer zone on the north and west of the Temple. Although this was done under Thai pressure, it does not mean that the adjacent land belongs to Thailand. After Samak was dethroned due to a cooking show, Abhisit Vejjajiva took the PM office and continued to use Cambodian Preah Vihear temple to stir Thai national sentiments against Cambodia in an effort to secure his undemocratic Prime Ministerial seat. War of words between Abhisit and Hun Sen intensified and relations with Cambodia became sour. Both countries recalled ambassadors to its respective countries. Many countries considered Abhisit as overreacting over ‘Thaksin’ as advisor to the Royal Government of Cambodia and his insistence on Cambodia to extradite Thaksin back to Thailand. Cambodia considered this as a double standard, while Thaksin enjoyed his stay in Dubai, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka, etc. without any problem. Thailand accused Cambodia of disrespecting its law, while Thailand on the other hand, never respected any international law since 1962! This, without doubts, undermines Thailand credibility in the world.
It’s a mistake for the Royal Government of Cambodia not to take the Thai invasion of Preah Vihear to the World Court or UN Security Council. This should have done the first day when Thai troops invaded Cambodia on July 15, 2008. Prolonging the Thai illegal occupation of Cambodian land creates a misconception in the world that there is a border dispute between the two counties; which in fact, there is none and was final 48 years ago. Cambodia has a long close relationship with China, France, and Russia as her allies. All are permanent members of the UN and if necessary will assist Cambodia in the legal battle against the naked Thai aggression.
The Thai government may be able to fool its citizens regarding the World Court verdict, but it can never fool the entire world. Let's review the ICJ verdict of June 15, 1962, once again:
"In its Judgment on the merits the Court, by nine votes to three, found that the Temple of Preah Vihear was situated in territory under the sovereignty of Cambodia and, in consequence, that Thailand was under an obligation to withdraw any military or police forces, or other guards or keepers, stationed by her at the Temple, or in its vicinity on Cambodian territory."
“By seven votes to five, the Court found that Thailand was under an obligation to restore to Cambodia any sculptures, stelae, fragments of monuments, sandstone model and ancient pottery which might, since the date of the occupation of the Temple by Thailand in 1954, have been removed from the Temple or the Temple area by the Thai authorities.”