Vasin Teeravechyan, the Chair of the Joint Boundary Commission (JBC), insisted that Koh Kud belonged to Thailand, and the line on the map drawn by Cambodia to take in half the sea area around Koh Kud, but leave out the island itself, as alleged by the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), was a breach of international law. Thailand and Cambodia ceased negotiations on overlapping maritime claims in 2006, after fruitless talks.
On Aug 3, Vasin Teeravechyan was assigned by Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya to inform the press about the 26,000-km² Thai-Cambodian Joint Development Area in the Gulf of Thailand.
Thailand and Cambodia have each claimed sovereignty over the area, and have awarded concessions all over it. However, neither side can do anything further until an agreement is reached, Vasin said.
Vasin would not speculate on how long it would take to reach an agreement between the two countries, because each side had to protect its own best interests. The border issue is sensitive, and each side has to be very cautious.
After an MOU was signed in 2001, meetings have been held sporadically to sound out each other’s position, but so far each side has been dissatisfied with the other’s proposals.
Asked about Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban’s negotiations with Cambodia, Vasin said that he had no idea, because Suthep had not communicated with him after his visit to the country.
Vasin said that he had just been appointed Chair of the Joint Boundary Commission, and had not really start to work. Now he is in the process of asking for a clear mandate and framework from Parliament.
Regarding the PAD’s concern about Cambodia’s encroachment into Thai territory, Vasin said that talks would have to be held to discuss the legal basis of this claim. He said it was perfectly obvious that Koh Kud belonged to Thailand.
However, so far no one has ever done anything in the disputed area, as both sides have to reach an agreement on the JDA first.
As to whether Suthep’s visit to Cambodia was to negotiate for his own political interests, Vasin responded that the border issue had to be negotiated with caution and explicitly based on international law to prevent any confusion. But if there is anything that is not explicit, that will be terrible, he said.