Thai-Cambodian Tension Grow

Thai arrested on espionage charge in Cambodia

* Published: 13/11/2009 at 03:35 PM
* Online news: Local News

Cambodian police have charged a Thai man with spying on fugitive former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra, further inflaming a diplomatic crisis between the neighbouring countries.

The spy row erupted as Thaksin played a relaxed round of golf with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, underscoring Bangkok’s powerlessness to make Phnom Penh extradite the fugitive politician to serve a jail term for conflict of interest while prime minister.

Siwarak Chothipong, a 31-year-old employee of the Cambodia Air Traffic Service, which manages flights in the country, was accused of stealing Thaksin’s flight schedule and sending it diplomats at the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodian deputy police chief Lt-Gen Sok Phal said on Friday.

Lt-Gen Sok Phal alleged that Siwarak handed over the flight schedule to the first secretary at the Thai embassy, who was then ordered by Cambodia on Thursday to leave the country on Thursday for carrying out activities inconsistent with his official duties.

Thailand responded on Thursday by ordering out the first secretary of Cambodia’s mission in Bangkok.

Mr Siwarak appeared in municipal court on Thursday and was charged with stealing information that could impact national security. If found guilty, he faces up to 15 years in jail.

Officials said police were investigating whether more people were involved.

Thailand rejected the “malicious” allegations against its citizen.

“It’s not true. It is a malicious and false claim,” Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya told reporters before boarding a flight with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to attend the Apec regional summit in Singapore.

Mr Kasit said he believed Mr Siwarak had been framed. He affirmed that the Foreign Ministry would ensure he receives proper treatment and justice.

As for Thai staff at the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh, Mr Kasit said the Cambodian government was duty-bound to ensure their safety. Thailand accepts the same responsibility for staff at the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok.

Mr Kasit said problems caused by the former Thaksin regime were still far from at an end. Thaksin was now using a neighbouring country as a base in his efforts to topple the Abhisit government, serving his own interests and causing damage to Thailand without any care for the majority of people.

Cambodia expelled the Thai first secretary and Thailand reciprocated on Thursday in a sign of the growing tensions caused by the Cambodian government’s appointment of Thaksin earlier this month as an economic adviser.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said on Friday the Thai military attache would remain in Phnom Penh.

Military ties must remain in place as a channel for negotiatons to prevent tension along the border, he said.

He again gave an assruance the government would not let the problems affect the daily lives of Thai people living along the border with Cambodia.

He said Phnom Penh’s demand that the Thai government sack Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya was out of line. This was an internal matter for Thailand and a foreign government had no say in it.

Mr Suthep said the government was being careful not to stir up too much among pariotism or people might not act rationally.

He was responding to a question about reports that SMS messages had been sent to Cambodian people not to use products made in Thailand.

Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 coup, arrived in Cambodia on Tuesday to take up the role and Hun Sen on Wednesday rejected Bangkok’s formal extradition request for Thaksin.

The countries had already recalled their ambassadors last week.

Thaksin on Friday met a group of supporters before playing golf with Hun Sen in the tourist hub of Siem Reap. Hun Sen and Cambodian officials laughed and applauded Thaksin’s shot as he teed off first at the luxury Angkor Golf Resort.

He was later due to meet around 50 MPs from Thailand’s main pro-Thaksin party, Puea Thai, who had crossed the border Friday, Puea Thai lawmaker Pongpan Sunthornrachai said.

Thaksin hit out at the Thai government during a lecture in the capital Phnom Penh on Thursday, accusing Thai rulers of “false patriotism”.

Thaksin has pledged to help impoverished Cambodia understand finance, reduce poverty and lure more foreign investment. Cambodian officials have indicated he would leave the country Friday or Saturday and was not intending to live there.

Abhisit on Thursday ordered a review of two road construction projects with Cambodia that involved loans of more than 1.4 billion baht (42 million dollars) to Phnom Penh, the finance ministry said.

Thailand has already put all talks and cooperation programmes with Cambodia on hold and also tore up an oil and gas exploration deal signed during Thaksin’s time in power.

Tensions were already high between the two countries following a series of clashes over disputed territory near an ancient temple and the row threatens to mar a weekend summit of regional leaders with US President Barack Obama.

Twice-elected Thaksin fled Thailand in August 2008, a month before the Supreme Court sentenced him to two years in jail in a conflict of interest criminal case.

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/loca…spying-charges

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Kasit: Arrested man not a spy

* Published: 13/11/2009 at 02:10 PM
* Online news: Breakingnews

The Thai man who was arrested in Cambodia is not a spy and the Foreign Ministry is taking care of him, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said on Friday.

Sivarak Chotipong, 31, a mechanic at Cambodia Air Traffic Services, is alleged to have passed flight schedules for former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to the Thai authorities.

MrKasit said Mr Sivarak is not a government spy and he believed the man had been framed. The Foreign Ministry would ensure he receives proper treatment and justice.

As for Thai staff at the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh, Mr Kasit said the Cambodian government is duty-bound to ensure their safety. Thailand accepts the same responsibility for staff at the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok.

Mr Kasit said problems caused by the former Thaksin regime were still far from at an end. Thaksin was now using a neighbouring country as a base in his efforts to topple the Abhisit government, serving his own interests and causing damage to Thailand without any care for the majority of people.

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/poli…-man-not-a-spy

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Surin calls for rapid end to dispute

* Published: 13/11/2009 at 02:50 PM
* Online news: Breakingnews

The diplomatic conflict between Thailand and Cambodia should be brought to an end before the Asean-US summit scheduled for Sunday, the secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (Asean), Surin Pitsuwan, said on Friday.

“The dispute is no longer an internal affair of Thailand or Cambodia. It is a conflict between two member countries of Asean and could affect the organisation’s plan to become an economic community in the near future,” he told reporters in Singapore.

Mr Surin said he had sent letters to foreign ministers of all member countries of Asean asking for help in settling the escalating dispute between the two countries.

The conflict arose after prime minister Hun Sen appointed fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra economic adviser to his government and his personal adviser.

http://www.bangkokpost.com/breakingn…omatic-dispute

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2 Responses to Thai-Cambodian Tension Grow

  1. PeterS says:

    I hope both countries can keep their nerves together and keep using brains instead of guns

  2. M. Allen says:

    Cambodia is just symptomatic of so many military challenges rising up to face the Thai. military. Soon Cambodia will recieve jet fighters. Probably FC 1 jets from China. The FC 1 is roughly equivalent to the Thai air force F 16 fighters. More critically. Vietnam has just ordered another sqaudron of modern SU 30 jets from Russia. Simutaneously Myanmar is ordering twenty Mig 29 jet fighters from Russia.Thailand is falling behind in air power rapidly. Economic problems or not. The Thai. government must act. The solution ? Re sign the deal for the second batch of Saab Grippen jet fighters and the second Swedish awacs plane. Contract with the United States to refurbish and modernize twelve of the Thai. air force F 16 jets to current F 16C standards.This could be done at the rate of four a year to spread out the cost. The Thai. air force would then have twenty four front line fighters and two awacs. The remaining F 16A fighters would serve as back up and attack jets.
    Last. Buy eight Harrier Jump jet vtol fighters from Britain who are about to retire a squad of Harriers. These Harriers would equip the Thai. navy aircraft carrier and would allow the navy to protect the airspace approach over the gulf. The Harrier jets would also allow the navy to provide their own air cover so precious air force jets would not need to be diverted. Expensive, but not as expensive as being defeated in an air war.

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