Sondhi Limthongkul’s solution to the Preah Vihear dispute

On the night of July 28, while the Preah Vihear dispute was being negotiated between Thai and Cambodian governments at Cambodia’s Siam Reap and before the 4-point conclusion was reached at 10 pm, Sondhi Limthongkul, leader of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), took to the stage at about 9 pm to address the crowd rallying near Government House in Bangkok, and proposed his own way of solving the dispute by force.

Sondhi said that Thailand was in the greatest danger.  To have a new Foreign Minister would not help, and Thai sovereignty would only further erode. The only way was to oust this government first, and form a new government through ‘whatever means’, or else the dispute over the Preah Vihear temple and Thai-Cambodian border would never be solved.

He proposed a what-to-do list to be taken by the next government, including:

1.   The next government must revoke the current Cabinet’s resolution that gives approval to the Thailand-Cambodia Joint Communiqué that supports Cambodia’s bid to list the Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site with the UNESCO;

2.   A neutral, independent committee must be set up consisting of socially accepted persons to investigate wrongdoing, and then notify the United Nations that Thailand does not accept the UNESCO Committee’s decision to grant the World Heritage status to the Preah Vihear temple at Cambodia’s request, and that Thailand wishes to reopen the ruling by the International Court of Justice in 1962;

3.   An official letter must be sent to the UN Secretary-General for Thailand to withdraw from UNESCO, and cancel all recognition that the UNESCO has ever granted to Thai archaeological sites;

4.   The Cambodian Ambassador to Thailand must be summoned to be informed that Thailand has never accepted the French map to which Cambodia has referred;

5.   A special delegation must be set up, including the (new) Prime Minister, to visit countries which are members of the UN Security Council to explain to them, maybe behind doors, and ask them to choose between Thai or Cambodian friendship;

World-famous public relations firms should be hired to bring up the story of French bullying of Thailand through the media worldwide, and a website should be created called ‘www.realfactsofkhaophraviharn.com’, filled with the correct information;

Academics in the field of geography and experts on satellite photography should be invited to a seminar in Bangkok, or Hong Kong, or New York, or Sydney, hosted by Thailand, to insist that watershed lines are universally accepted as border demarcation lines, and to prove that, if the watershed line is used, together with satellite photos, Preah Vihear is on Thai soil;

A meeting should be called of Thai ambassadors from all over the world to assign them to explain Thailand’s stand and the facts regarding the case to the media in each country, and point out that the dispute is a consequence of French colonialism, and set a 30-day time frame for the ambassadors to accomplish the task, in pain of immediate removal;

6.   Thai investors in Cambodia must be informed that Thailand has no policy to promote investments there because the dispute is likely to erupt in the future, and advise them to withdraw, or forgo Thai government help;

Thai people doing business along the border must be told to be prepared for border closures in case the conflict escalates;

7.   A commission must be set up to invite Cambodia to bilateral negotiations.  If the dispute cannot be settled, Thailand would, temporarily adhering to the ICJ’s ruling, mobilize Thai troops, push Cambodians back from Thai territory, and formally inform Cambodia that, apart from the Preah Vihear temple, the surroundings belong to Thailand, and Thailand would pay any price to protect its sovereignty, even at the cost of war.

“We would close all 40 Thai-Cambodian border checkpoints, and ban all flights to Phnom Penh and Siam Reap from Bangkok; 70% of flights to the two destinations are from Bangkok.

And then we would order the Defense Ministry to build a naval base at Koh Kut, deploy two battleships there, together with patrol ships, build a runway for F-16 aircraft, abolish the committee which oversees demarcation of overlapping sea areas, and officially declare our own marine map.

Cambodia would be hopping mad, but we would not bother because Cambodia would not have the nerve to fight us.  They can make noises and threats because our own people are traitors.  But if they see that Thai soldiers have a firm stand, the (new) Thai government has a firm stand, and the Thai people are ready to sacrifice their lives for sovereignty, they will back off.  Cambodia can do nothing but to count on Thailand.  If they want to count on Vietnam, let them do so, but problems would surely arise between the real Cambodians and the Vietnamese in future.

China openly makes friends with everybody, but furtively China knows that, between Thailand and Cambodia, it prefers Thailand.

When we declare all overlapping areas ours, Cambodia will surely protest.  But we will not argue.  We’ll send our battleships to seize any islands and islets we spot, or anchor our battleships in the overlapping sea territory.

Until the UN sets up a committee to mediate the dispute over sea areas between Thailand and Cambodia, we would sit at the table, and would not be an underdog like we are today, but would hold the upper hand.  At that time western companies and countries who look for sources of energy know that the new Thai government is not a traitor, so they will take the Thai side.

After we resign from UNESCO, we would officially notify the 7 member countries of the World Heritage Committee that we would not allow them to enter our country to restore the Preah Vihear temple.  They would have to fly helicopters from Cambodia to reach the temple.  We would not even allow them to come out to use toilets on Thai soil.

This is the only thing for us to do, and we can do it, believe me.

To negotiate with a rogue country like Cambodia cannot be done with our weaknesses and as long as we still have those traitors.  We have to bring about unity of the nation on this issue of Preah Vihear temple and Thai sovereignty, and then we will take this ‘Strength of the Land’ to talk with Cambodia.

This is urgent.  I believe that when we implement this, the worst-case scenario would be a reversion to 1962 when Cambodia could take only the temple, but nothing else.

But what is certain, whether an agreement can be reached or not, is that the new government must prohibit Thai gamblers from entering casinos in Poi Pet, because the casino owners who are Thai have to share half of their profits with Hun Sen [Cambodia’s Prime Minister].

Remember my words.  The Thai Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag will never be able to solve the dispute, because the policy of this government is to betray the country.”

 

Related news:

Preah Vihear: A Khmer Heritage                       

Open Letter from NHRC to the UN Secretary-General on Pra Viharn

Historian Pessimistic over temple crisis

Whose Preah Vihear Temple is it, and what does it matter anyway?

Preah Vihear as the last struggle, how history will remember you

 


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