Monday, February 7, 2011

Preah Vihear

Here we go again! Cambodia and Thailand are once again clashing over the 11th-century Hindu temple, Preah Vihear. The fresh fighting is so serious that the Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has appealed to the United Nations Security Council to hold an urgent meeting "to stop Thailand's aggression."

Naturally Thailand has defended itself in the latest clashes rejecting Cambodian claims that they were the aggressor in the latest clashes. Unfortunately for Thailand, they face a huge problem; to the rest of the world (including Southeast Asia), there is no dispute.

The World Court ruled in 1962 that Preah Vihear belonged to Cambodia. That was 49 years ago and most of the world has long since considered the temple as Cambodian. Furthermore, the World Court also ruled that the main entrance to the temple as Thai territory. This was an act of compromise that was accepted by both sides till Preah Vihear was granted UN World Heritage status in July 2008.

Since then, Thai nationalists like the powerful yellow-shirts movement have been using the temple as a rally point for their cause. So powerful are they that Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has rejected any mediation efforts from ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations).

Thailand does not seem to understand that on Preah Vihear, they are almost alone on the international stage. Almost every country in the world considered the temple as Cambodian and it has been that way for almost 50 years! Or maybe they do know that and that’s why they are rejecting international mediation. Either way, Thai diplomats are going to be working overtime for the foreseeable future.

No comments: