Thursday, 28 April 2011

ROC donates money to build girls shelters in Cambodia

via CAAI


Taipei, April 28 (CNA) The Republic of China government has donated US$100,000 recently to help three charity organizations establish teenaged girls shelters in Cambodia, a Taiwan diplomat said Thursday.

The donation, made on April 27, was given to the Chinese Christian Herald Crusades (CCHC) , the Fullness in Christ Fellowship (FiCF), and the Garden of Hope Foundation to help Cambodia eliminate human trafficking and protect affected teenaged girls.

Andrew Kao, head of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York, said at the donation ceremony that the ROC government has spared no effort to uphold women's rights, protect human rights, and crack down on human trafficking.

Taiwan was listed as a "tier 1" country in the U.S. State Department's latest Trafficking in Persons report released in June 2010, which means Taiwan fully complies with the minimum standards of the U.S. Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, Kao said.

In Asia, only Taiwan and South Korea were listed among the "tier 1" countries in 2010.

He said Taiwan maintains no formal diplomatic relations with Cambodia, but is willing to help it fight against human trafficking -- a problem that has constantly plagued the Southeast Asian nation.

Both Yeh Chi-ming, the CCHC founder, and Lily Chang, a New York-based executive of the Garden of Hope Foundation, offered their appreciation to the ROC government for its generosity.

Lily Lee,president of the Garden of Hope, Cambodia,said she plans to use the donation to establish a teenager girls home in Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital. The home, to be called the Pleroma Home for Girls, will be followed by the building of other women's homes and girls schools to help victims of human trafficking. (By Deborah Kuo) enditem/ly

Cambodia, Thailand agree to ceasefire after clashes

via CAAI

A Thai army tank is unloaded onto a road near the Thai-Cambodia border in Surin province April 28, 2011. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

Apr 28, 2011

By Prak Chan Thul

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Thailand and Cambodia agreed to a cease-fire on Thursday after a week of clashes that killed at least 15 people, wounded scores and sent more than 60,000 into evacuation shelters in Southeast Asia's deadliest border dispute in years.

The agreement caps seven days of sporadic clashes with guns, heavy artillery and small-rocket fire that fanned nationalist passions in both countries, threatened to overshadow elections in Thailand and reinforced doubts over Southeast Asia's ambitions to form an E.U.-style community by 2015.

Cambodia's Defence Ministry said both sides agreed to keep troops in the area, hold regular meetings between field commanders and leave their long-festering territorial disputes to a Thai-Cambodian Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary set up a decade ago.

They also agreed to open a border checkpoint near two disputed 12th-century Hindu temples at the heart of the fighting, although it was unclear when villagers would be allowed back to their remote, ravaged towns.

"We will abide by the cease-fire from now on and local commanders will meet regularly to avoid misunderstanding," Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan said.

Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said a decision on sending villagers home would be made soon.

"We hope that would ease tension and that both sides will respect this initial agreement," he said. "On our side of the border, the regional commander is expressing confidence peace will hold."

Cambodian Colonel Suos Sothea said Cambodia was in control of the Ta Moan and Ta Krabey temples around which rival troops clashed repeatedly. "The situation is now quiet," he said. "The temples are completely controlled by Cambodia."

Thai military and government officials declined to acknowledge Cambodian control of the two stone-walled temples.

Thailand has insisted the ruins reside in its Surin province according to a 1947 map. Cambodia says they are in its Oddar Meanchey province.

Sovereignty over the ancient temples -- Preah Vihear, Ta Moan and Ta Krabey -- and the jungle of the Dangrek Mountains surrounding them has been in dispute since the withdrawal of the French from Cambodia in the 1950s.

Earlier, Thailand reinforced the area with tanks following a night of shelling that killed a Thai soldier and wounded seven. Eight Thai tanks had rumbled through deserted villages towards the front lines where troops on both sides were sealed off by heavily guarded roadblocks, about 7 km (4.3 miles) away.

The fighting killed at least eight Cambodian and six Thai soldiers, and one Thai civilian.


Analysts have expressed scepticism the conflict -- which first flared with February 4-7 clashes near Preah Vihear that killed 11 people -- is really about sovereignty and say it appears politically driven from both sides.

Others say hawkish generals were colluding with nationalists to create a crisis that could cancel elections in Thailand expected by July and sideline the opposition to preserve the royalist establishment's hold on power.

In Karb Cherng, a village on the Thai side of the border damaged by the shelling and mortar fire, houses were abandoned and small shops shuttered. Police and bomb squads patrolled the empty town for remnants of unexploded ordnance.

"Where do you hide when they are shelling all night. I want to go home and I want things to go back to normal," said Jarat Unanom, a 51-year-old farmer.

The clashes are a setback for the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), a 10-member bloc with plans to become a regional community by 2015, illustrating the limits to regional diplomacy after the Thai army rebuffed international monitors proposed by ASEAN foreign ministers in February.

Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya was scheduled to meet Indonesian foreign minister and ASEAN chairman Marty Natalegawa on Thursday in Jakarta.

(Additional reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat, Ambika Ahuja and Martin Petty in Bangkok; Writing by Jason Szep; Editing by Andrew Marshall)


Thai-Cambodian Fighting Intensifies Amid New Diplomatic Efforts

VOA News  
April 28, 2011

Photo: AP
An injured Thai soldier on a stretcher is helped to board a helicopter to be transferred to a hospital following the clashes between Thailand and Cambodia in Surin province, northeastern Thailand, April 28, 2011

Officials say Thai and Cambodian forces have agreed to a cease-fire, raising hopes for an end to fighting that has raged for a week in a disputed border area near two ancient Hindu temples.

Cambodian officials said the cease-fire was negotiated Thursday during a meeting of field commanders after some of the fiercest fighting since the skirmishes began on April 22.

They said the sides had agreed to open a single border point to allow displaced villagers to return to their homes, and to meet regularly to avoid future misunderstandings.

Thai officials said earlier that one soldier was killed as fighting intensified and spread overnight, bringing the death toll in seven days of fighting to 15.

The cease-fire, which leaves the border dispute to be settled by a civilian commission, came amid renewed diplomatic moves.

Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, in Jakarta Thursday for an Association of Southeast Asian Nations cultural meeting, was expected to discuss the crisis with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa. Natalegawa, as this year's chairman of ASEAN, has been seeking to mediate between the two countries.

The U.S. ambassador to Thailand, Kristie Anne Kenney, met earlier Thursday with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. She called for both countries to return to the negotiating table, and suggested the dispute be handled through ASEAN mechanisms.

Proposed peace talks collapsed Wednesday when Thai Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwon canceled a trip to the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, speaking during a border visit Wednesday, said Thailand wants to hold talks, but that Cambodia must stop attacking before that can happen.

In Phnom Penh, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen appealed for a cease-fire, and said he is ready to hold peace talks with Mr. Abhisit at a regional security summit in Jakarta May 4 through May 6.

The poorly demarcated border between the two countries has long been a source of friction, but there is no obvious reason for the latest fighting.

Each side accuses the other of starting it, while analysts suggest that hardline nationalist groups and military elements in the two countries may have political motives.

Thailand is facing contentious national elections later this year, and some analysts say elements within the powerful Thai military may be attempting to exert influence ahead of the polls, which are expected by July.

Prayuth: Ceasefire promise reached

via CAAI

Published: 28/04/2011
Online news:

A ceasefire on the border is effectively underway after contacts on Thursday morning between Thai and Cambodian military commanders in the area where fighting has been occuring, national army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha said.

A ceasefire on the border was effectively underway after contacts on Thursday morning between Thai and Cambodian military commanders in the area where fighting has been occuring, national army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha said.

The army chief said this move followed a heavy exchange of fire near Chong Chom pass in Surin province this morning.

National army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha

"Actually, a ceasefire has begun. Unit commanders of the two sides in the area had talks to end the fighting. Let's wait and see whether there will be more fighting this afternoon, tonight and tomorrow.

"If there is no more fighting, Lt-Gen Tawatchai Samutsakhon, the 2nd Army commander, will tomorrow (Friday) meet and hold talks with Lt-Gen Chea Mon, Cambodia's 5th Army Region commander," Gen Prayuth said.

The army chief said this after attending the funeral of soldiers killed in action in Surin.

"The 2nd Army chief and his Cambodian counterpart have been in contact," he added.

An informed source said on Thursday morning Cambodian deputy army chief Hun Manet and Lt-Gen Chea Mon sent their representatives to negotiate with Thai soldiers at Chong Chom pass in Surin for a ceasefire.

The source said the Cambodian force, commanded by Lt-Gen Hun Manet at O Samed opposite Chong Chom pass, suffered heavy casualties during a fierce exchange of fire this morning.

Gen Prayuth said the situation was likely to improve now the Cambodian side showed they wanted to talk, unlike in the past when they refused to do so.

The army chief said he was also concerned about the well-being of Thai villagers in the area, although most of them had been evacuated to safe havens.

"Let us hope that from now there will not be a single shot fired, but if they open fire we will return fire to stop them. We will not let any force intrude onto Thai territory," said Gen Prayuth.

A Thai soldier was injured in a Thai-Cambodian border clash on April 28, 2011. (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)

The army chief admitted troops had been reinforced to the area following an assessment of the situation and intelligence operations to ascertain the movements of the other side.

Asked if it would be best if Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon and his Cambodian counterpart Tea Banh could meet for talks, Gen Prayuth said he supports talks of all levels, ranging from commanders in the area to high-level commanders of the Defence Ministry.

Army Region 2 spokesman Prawit Hukaew said a Thai soldier was confirmed killed in the clashes between Thai and Cambodian troops on the border in Surin on Wednesday night.

The casualty, identified as Second Lt Uthai Muen-apai, was the sixth Thai soldier killed since the fighting began last Friday, Col Prawit said.

The spokesman said three Thai villagers suspected of spying on Thai soldiers and passing information to Cambodian forces were arrested today for interrogation.

He said the three were apprehended near Ban Don Nam Tan in tambon Bak Dai of Surin's Phanom Dong Rak district.

They are suspected of reporting the locations of targets by mobile phone to Cambodian soldiers for attack.

They were identified as Thanit Srisa-nga, of tambon Khok Klang, Sanit Pinkao, of Ban Nong Khanna, and Sermsuk Phochaiserm, of Ban Don Nam Tan.

Col Prawit said the three were still being questioned and it was not yet confirmed they were spying for Cambodia.

Cambodian, Thai military commanders promise ceasefire

via CAAI  

PHNOM PENH, April 28 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian and Thai military commanders concluded a 40-minute meeting here on Thursday morning and promised a ceasefire after seven straight days of armed clashes between the two countries' troops over the border disputed areas since Friday last week.

The meeting was held at 10:50 a.m. at the O'smach border checkpoint in Oddar Meanchey province between Cambodian Major General Chea Mon, commander of Military Region 4 and Lt Gen Thawatchai Samutsakorn, commander of Thai Army Region 2.

Phay Siphan, spokesman of the Office of the Council of Ministers of Cambodia said following a meeting that lasted about 45 minutes on Thursday, both agreed to an unconditional ceasefire and encouraged both sides to meet regularly to ease tension.

They also agreed to reopen the two countries' border pass that has been affected by the fighting and encouraged villagers who have fled their hometowns to return, he said.

"After the meeting, the two sides agreed that there will not be allowed to have renewed fighting and if there is any important issue between the two sides, they promise to meet and solve peacefully," a Cambodian military source, who asked not to be named, said on Thursday after the meeting.

The talks are made after the seven straight days of gunfire exchanges between Cambodian and Thai troops over the border areas at the 13th century Ta Moan temple and Ta Krabei temple in Oddar Meanchey province.

The fighting, however, was stopped after 8:30 am on Thursday, according to Lt. Gen. Chhum Socheat, spokesman of the Cambodia's Ministry of National Defense.

But the last six days of clashes have killed eight Cambodian and six Thai soldiers, and one Thai civilian, and several dozens injured, and forced tens of thousands of the two countries' people to flee home for safe shelters.

The border between Thailand and Cambodia has never been completely demarcated.

Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple was enlisted as a World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008. But Thailand claims the ownership of 4.6 square kilometers (1.8 square miles) of scrub next to the temple.

Just a week after the enlistment, Cambodia and Thailand had a border conflict, triggering a military build-up along the border, and periodic clashes between Cambodian and Thai soldiers have resulted in the deaths of troops on both sides.

Editor: Xiong Tong

FTI: Don’t close border crossings

via CAAI

Published: 28/04/2011
Online news:

The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) does not agree with foreign minister’s proposal that Thailand should close all checkpoints on the Thai-Cambodian border, FTI chairman Payungsak Chartsutthipol said.

The proposal came after the clashes between Thai and Cambodian troops continued along the border in Surin province for the seventh day running. Border crossings in Surin have been closed.

“Closing all the border crossing points will only escalate the situation,” Mr Payungsak said on Thursday.

FTI chairman suggested that the government try to settle the border conflict in a positive way, by trying to peacefully restore the relationship with Cambodia. Most Thai people do not want the conflict to escalate, he added.

Mr Payungsak said the industrial sector was not worried too much about the fighting as it was occurring in a limited area and he believed Thailand and Cambodia would be able to avoid an escalation.

FTI deputy chairman Thanit Sorat, secretary-general of the Thai-Cambodian Business Council, said the impact of the fighting had so far been limited to border trade at Chong Chom and Chong Sangam border crossing points in Surin.

The border trade value there accounted for only seven per cent of the total, and that was not that much, he added.

He expected the trade along the Thai Cambodian border, including Aranyaprathet and Klong Luek checkpoints in Sa Kaeo and Klomng Yai checkpoint in Trat would substantially increase, to about 100 billion baht in 2011.

The border trade was valued at 79 billion baht last year, with Thailand benefitting the most with a 65 billion baht trade surplus.

Major products exported to Cambodia included finished oil, refined sugar, cement, fruits and food products. Thailand is the 15th largest investor in Cambodia, where the major investors are Taiwan, China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Malaysia, according to Mr Payungsak.

Cambodia: Ceasefire agreed after military commanders meet

via CAAI

Apr 28, 2011

Phnom Penh - A senior Cambodian military source said Thursday that Thai and Cambodian military commanders agreed a ceasefire during a morning meeting.

The source, who asked not to be named, told the German Press Agency dpa that General Chea Morn, who commands the armed forces in the Cambodian military's Region 4, had agreed the ceasefire with a Thai general.

'The meeting has helped to ease tensions along the border,' the source said, before adding that Cambodia remained to be convinced that the Thai military 'was serious' about the ceasefire.

He said shelling had stopped along the border after reports of artillery battles earlier in the day, adding that since mid-morning there had been just a few reports of small-arms fire.

A soldier at Ta Moan temple, the scene of some of the heaviest shelling over the past seven days, confirmed that fighting had ceased in his area.

Thai defence officials were not available to comment.

Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan said the ceasefire had been agreed 'in principle.'

The fighting between the two nations has killed 14 soldiers and one civilian, and wounded nearly 60 others.

Clashes involving heavy artillery and small-arms fire had erupted on a daily basis since Friday at a series of six locations on Cambodia's northern and north-west border with Thailand.

Three suspected border spies arrested

via CAAI

Published: 28/04/2011
Online news:

Three Thai villagers suspected of spying on Thai soldiers and passing information to Cambodian forces were arrested on Thursday for interrogation, 2nd Army spokesman Col Prawit Hukaew said.

The three were apprehended near Ban Don Nam Tan in tambon Bak Dai of Surin's Phanom Dong Rak district.

They are suspected of reporting the locations of targets by mobile phone to Cambodian soldiers for attack.

They were identified as Thanit Srisa-nga, of tambon Khok Klang, Sanit Pinkao, of Ban Nong Khanna, and Sermsuk Phochaiserm, of Ban Don Nam Tan.

Col Prawit said the three were still being questioned and it was not yet confirmed they were spying for Cambodia.

34,000 Cambodians evacuated, 67 schools closed during Cambodian, Thai border clashes

via CAAI

PHNOM PENH, April 28 (Xinhua) -- The number of Cambodian villagers evacuated from the latest rounds of armed clashes between Cambodian and Thai troops over border disputed areas since Friday last week has increased to 34,000 people, said a senior government official on Thursday.

As of Thursday morning, about 34,000 Cambodians have fled their homes for safe shelters following the bloodshed fightings between Cambodian and Thai troops over the border areas, Nhim Vanda, the first vice-president of the Cambodian National Committee for Disaster Management, told Xinhua by telephone on Thursday.

"Most of them are women, children and elderly people," he said. "Now clean water and sanitary facilities are posing a concern for them."

In addition, 67 schools, with about 1,600 students, have been closed, he added.

Cambodian and Thai troops have exchanged gunfire for seven straight days over the border areas at the 11th century Ta Moan temple and Ta Krabei temple, which lie 150 kilometers west of Preah Vihear Temple.

The fighting has killed at least eight Cambodian and six Thai soldiers, and one Thai civilian, and several dozens injured.

The border between Thailand and Cambodia has never been completely demarcated.

Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple was enlisted as a World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008. But Thailand claims the ownership of 4.6 sq km of scrub next to the temple. Just a week after the enlistment, Cambodia and Thailand had a border conflict, triggering a military build-up along the border, and periodic clashes between Cambodian and Thai soldiers have resulted in deaths on both sides.

Editor: Xiong Tong

Thailand troops on Cambodia border

via CAAI

Thursday April 28, 2011
Source: Reuters

Thai troops in Cambodia - Source: Reuters

Thailand has dispatched troops to a disputed area on its border with Cambodia today after clashes erupted for the seventh day near two 12th-century Hindu temples, the Thai army spokesman said.

The reinforcement followed a night of shelling that killed a Thai soldier and wounded seven. Fighting ended after dawn but troops on both sides remained on high alert.

"We are putting more troops in the area preventively because there has been tension for several days now," said Colonel Prawit Hukaew, a regional army spokesman.

"But we remain firm that we will not attack first and we are responding to reinforcement by Cambodia."

Each side has blamed the other for starting new rounds of fighting. At least 15 people have been killed and more than 50,000 evacuated from their homes during clashes in the jungle of the Dangrek Mountains.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, in his first public comments on the conflict yesterday, called Thailand's premier a "thief" whose government committed "terrorism".

But he said he was willing to discuss the clashes in one-on-one talks with Thailand and planned to raise the issue with Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and other Southeast Asian leaders during a summit in Indonesia on May 7-8.

Thailand said it would welcome border talks within an existing bilateral framework, but only after fighting stopped. A meeting between the Thai and Cambodian defense ministers was cancelled today.

Sovereignty over the ancient, stone-walled Hindu temples, Preah Vihear, Ta Moan and Ta Krabey, and the jungle of the Dangrek Mountains surrounding them has been in dispute since the withdrawal of the French from Cambodia in the 1950s.

In Karb Cherng border village, which was damaged in the fighting, houses were abandoned and shops shuttered. Police patrolled the empty town for remnants of unexploded ordnance.

On a road nearby, eight Thai army tanks were seen moving into the mountains.

Cambodian, Thai military commanders meet as border fighting enters 7th day

via CAAI

SAMRONG, Cambodia, April 28 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian and Thai military commanders met here on Thursday morning in order to negotiate for ceasefire as the armed clashes between the two countries' troops over the border disputed areas entered the seventh straight day.

The meeting was held at 10:50 a.m. at O'smach border checkpoint between Cambodian Major General Chea Mon, the commander of Military Region 4 and Lt Gen Thawatchai Samutsakorn, the commander of Thai Army Region 2.

The talks are held as the gunfire exchanges between Cambodian and Thai troops over the border areas at the 13th century Ta Moan temple and Ta Krabei temple in Oddar Meanchey province entered the seventh straight day.

The fighting on Thursday began at 3:55 a.m. and ended at around 10:00 a.m.. The casualties on Thursday's clashes are not available yet.

But the last six days of clashes has killed eight Cambodian soldiers, five Thai soldiers and one Thai civilian, caused several dozens injured, and forced tens of thousands of the two countries' people flee home for safe shelters.

The border between Thailand and Cambodia has never been completely demarcated.

Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple was enlisted as a World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008. But Thailand claims the ownership of 4.6 square kilometers (1.8 square miles) of scrub next to the temple. Just a week after the enlistment, Cambodia and Thailand had a border conflict, triggering a military build-up along the border, and periodic clashes between Cambodian and Thai soldiers have resulted in the deaths of troops on both sides.

Editor: Xiong Tong

Thai Minister Scraps Visit to Phnom Penh

via CAAI

Nirmal Ghosh - Straits Times Indonesia
April 28, 2011

Heavy artillery clashes between Thai and Cambodian troops damaged homes in Thailand's Surin province and reportedly killed a Thai civilian. The border dispute has intensified over the last week, sending more than 50,000 people fleeing to evacuation centers. Reuters Photo)

Bangkok. Thailand's defense minister on Wednesday abruptly canceled a visit to Phnom Penh to discuss a ceasefire with his Cambodian counterpart, on grounds that Cambodian media had interpreted his visit as a sign of capitulation by Bangkok.

But Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in his first remarks after the latest round of clashes — which continued with sporadic artillery exchanges yesterday - said “Cambodia doesn't want the conflict to spread further.”

“Cambodia is small, poor and [with] small armed forces, but don't forget that ants can hurt an elephant,' he said, adding he would raise the issue at the Asean summit in Jakarta next weekend.

In Bangkok, Thai Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters: 'I will definitely talk with Cambodia, but I don't want the public to think the decision to talk is a defeat for Thailand.'

He said he would talk with his Cambodian counterpart after returning from a scheduled visit to China.

Later, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva downplayed the change of plan, saying talks had merely been rescheduled.

He visited residents displaced by the clash yesterday, spending a few hours at camps in Surin province.

Thailand and Cambodia remained far apart on the conflict, which saw more artillery fire being exchanged yesterday for the sixth day running. Unconfirmed reports said one civilian was killed on the Thai side of the border.

Thailand's Cabinet on Tuesday ordered a review of bilateral cooperation and military options against Cambodia.

Cambodia reacted yesterday, with foreign ministry spokesman Koy Kuong saying Phnom Penh “condemns in the strongest terms Thailand's threat and belligerent actions to use its larger and materially superior military might to take control over the Cambodian territory recognized by the International Court of Justice in its 1962 judgment.”

That ruling awarded the disputed 11th-century Preah Vihear temple on the border to Cambodia — a decision reluctantly accepted by Thailand.

The temple site and adjacent land still under dispute have been the scene of sporadic clashes since mid-2008 when Thai nationalists revived the issue. The area saw more clashes on Tuesday.

The Cambodian Premier in his remarks at a function in Phnom Penh said: “We have to respect the role of Asean. All the negotiations about the disputed border areas near Preah Vihear temple must be with the participation of the third party.”

Bangkok, however, has been resisting third party involvement, with the army rejecting the idea of having observers from Indonesia — the current chair of Asean — despite Thailand's foreign ministry agreeing to such an arrangement in February.

Apart from being a major player in domestic politics and security, the Thai military has traditionally called the shots on border policy, and the civilian government has had to accommodate it.

Professor Duncan McCargo at the University of Leeds was quoted in The Independent as saying “the Thai army has always demanded the right to pursue an independent foreign policy to advance its own ends.”

“By prosecuting this bizarre and pointless border war, the military is trying to present itself as the true guardian of the national interest, seizing the moral high ground from civilian politicians.”

On the Cambodian side, conflict with Thailand plays into the hands of Mr Hun Sen, who has had a prickly relationship with Bangkok since the Democrat Party came to power in late 2008.

To the Thai military, the border dispute also has a domestic political angle.

The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), which in 2006 campaigned against then Premier Thaksin Shinawatra, was supported by many retired and serving senior army officers.

It raised the Cambodia issue in 2008, claiming the Thaksin-loyalist government at the time had made concessions to Phnom Penh. With right-wing elements vocal in Bangkok, the army does not want to appear soft on Cambodia.

Reprinted courtesy of Straits Times Indonesia. To subscribe to Straits Times Indonesia and/or the Jakarta Globe call 2553 5055.

Cambodia joins talks on wildlife trade battle

via CAAI
April, 28 2011

Closer co-operation between Viet Nam and Cambodia authorities is required to combat illegal, trans-border trading in wildlife. Authorities seized eight bears that were illegally trafficked from Kon Tum Province to Pleiku City of Gia Lai Province last September. —VNA/VNS Photo Sy Huynh

TAY NINH — Viet Nam and Cambodia are discussing closer co-operation to combat illegal, trans-border trading in wildlife at a two-day workshop that is being attended by their respective enforcement authorities.

The workshop that began yesterday in the southern border province of Tay Ninh also offers a platform to share experiences, consolidate understanding, and develop plans for improved collaboration and information exchange to curbing the wildlife trade along the Tay Ninh border.

"Illegal wildlife trade is increasingly becoming a regional challenge, requiring countries to work more closely together," Ha Cong Tuan, deputy director of the Viet Nam Administration of Forestry, said.

"This is an opportunity for Viet Nam to collaborate with Cambodia for bilateral solutions that fulfill national and international commitments on wildlife trade."

Recent improvements to the road network have connected Phnom Penh and HCM City, posing a great challenge to authorities along the border.

While both countries have made efforts to combat the illegal trade on their side of the border, co-ordination between them has been limited.

"This workshop supports a number of mechanisms for regional co-operation that are already in place and strengthens the existing processes to detect and prosecute violations," Sulma Warne of TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, said.

It is being hosted by the Viet Nam Administration of Forestry with technical support from TRAFFIC and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

It is part of the "Tiger Futures: Mainstreaming Conservation in Large Landscapes" project funded by the World Bank's Global Environment Facility programme.

A similar workshop for enforcement officials from Viet Nam and Laos is planned for the end of May. — VNS

US envoy encourages truce talks

via CAAI

Published: 28/04/2011
Online news:

US ambassador to Thailand Kristie Kenney called on both Thailand and Cambodia to exercise patience and use peaceful means to end their border conflict, reports said.

US ambassador to Thailand Kristie Kenney (left) shakes hand with Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva at Government House on April 28, 2011.

Speaking to reporters after paying a courtesy call to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva at Government House on Thursday morning, Mrs Kenney said the two countries must refrain from using force in settling the border dispute.

She also hoped that the mechanisms of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) could bring both countries back to the negotiating table.

Thailand and Cambodia were both long-time allies of the US and the US government wants to see the border conflict resolved as soon as possible, Mrs Kenney said.

Sun Shine Comes After Rain

via CAAI

Thursday, 28 April 2011 08:18 By Soy Sopheap

Oddor Meanchey: A seven-day war at border between the two kingdoms, stretching 20km long, northwest of Cambodia, it is almost ended after a meeting of the two nation´s military commanders onThursday morning at O´smach. The result led to put an end to the clash by agreeing all refugees return home.

Analysts said that if the two sides declare to get the refugee return home and set a meeting for the two minsters of the defense, it is believed that the situation would be normalized soon.

Some said that if a meeting of the two defense ministers is to be held prior the ASEAN submit, it is a good sign to normal the situation before 22 April.

The analysts expressed their deep thank to the intervention of the United Nations, the United State of America, Russia, China and ASEAN members which were apart of peaceful findings.

Thailand´s Nation reported that the US ambassador to Thailand called on Thai PM Abhisit that both nations are friend bilaterally and ASEAN region. The ambassador said the US wanted the two countries to exercise strain to find peaceful settlement.

Now, the fighting almost ended, the diplomatic field is started properly.
Some said that they wanted to see peace and stability in the two nations, and return to normal as they are a good neighboring and ASEAN members.

The seven-day war leaves thousands of refugees of the both side and some people dead and wounded. Thursday morning, Cambodian troop hit Thai military bases, killing a Thai military general commander.

(Translated by Soy Sophea).

AKP - The Agence Kampuchea Press

Add caption

via CAAI

Cambodian PM Welcomes Negotiation with His Thai Counterpart

Phnom Penh, April 28, 2011 AKP – Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen has announced to welcome and accept his Thai counterpart’s will to have a negotiation between both premiers.

But the negotiation must be held on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit scheduled on May 7-8 in Indonesia in case the Indonesian observers have not yet arrived in Cambodia, Samdech Techo Hun Sen said at the Extraordinary Congress of Cambodian Women Association for Peace and Development held here yesterday at the Peace Palace.

We do not want the Cambodian-Thai border dispute to complicate or hinder the ASEAN Summit, but the issue can not now be solved at the foreign ministerial level, except at the top level, he added.

The last four negotiations between prime ministers of both countries since Thai encroachment on Cambodian territory at the area of Preah Vihear Temple on July 15, 2008 have helped improve the situation. But the situation at the border became worse early this year, especially when Thailand conducted a war of aggression against Cambodia from Feb. 4 to 7 and recently since Apr. 22.

“During these days of the fighting, Cambodia has exercised utmost restraint, we just used small weapons, not heavy weapons, but on Apr. 26, Cambodia began to use heavy weapons to defend our infantrymen,” said Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen, stressing “Our patience is limited, but our use of heavy weapons is still in low level and small scale.”

According to Thai media, Thailand will accept the Indonesian observers only if Cambodia withdraws its troops from Preah Vihear Temple and Keo Sikha Kiri Svara pagoda. “I would like to confirm Cambodia’s stance that Cambodia can not withdraw its troops from its own territory,” the Cambodian premier said.

He further called on Indonesia, the current Chair of ASEAN, to send observers to the Cambodian side despite disagreement from Thailand.

Cambodian and Thai foreign ministers agreed in February to accept Indonesian observers to monitor and ensure a permanent ceasefire between the two countries. But later on, Thai military rejected the presence of Indonesian observers and insisted the issue be resolved bilaterally. –AKP

Article in Khmer by CHIM Nary
Article in English by SOKMOM Nimul


Statement of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit over Thai Incessant Aggressions on Cambodian Territory

Phnom Penh, April 28, 2011 AKP – The following is the statement of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Office of the Council of Ministers about Thailand’s incessant attacks and invasions of Cambodia:

National Defense Ministry Updates on Situation at Frontline

Phnom Penh, April 28, 2011 AKP – The Spokesman of the Ministry of National Defense has in a statement updated on the situation at the frontline.

The following is the full statement dated Wednesday:

Cambodian government accuses Thailand of genocide

PHOTO: Sovan Philong

via CAAI

Thursday, 28 April 2011 13:04Cheang Sokha and Thomas Miller

Civilian house destroyed by shells during Thai-Cambodian conflict.

Fighting between Cambodia and Thailand continued into a seventh straight day today, as Cambodia ramped up the rhetoric and accused Thailand of “genocidal acts”.

A brief midnight skirmish took place before igniting at about 2am into roughly eight hours of heavy fighting with artillery and rockets near Ta Moan and Ta Krabey temples along the border at Oddar Meanchey province. Sporadic fighting continued until late morning.

No report of casualties was available. At least 13 soldiers and one Thai civilian have been killed thus far in clashes that sparked on Friday.

Although Prime Minister Hun Sen called for ceasefire talks yesterday, his media arm escalated inflammatory rhetoric to new levels today.

In a statement released this morning, the Press and Quick Reactions Unit at the Council of Ministers accused Thailand of “blatant and naked aggression” that was a “prelude to all-out undeclared war”, claiming that artillery shells had landed more than 20 kilometres into Cambodian territory.

“Thailand’s inhumane and indiscriminate shelling of Cambodia is nothing short of crimes against humanity… These are apparent genocidal acts committed by Thailand on Cambodian soil against Cambodian civilians,” the statement said.

Neither Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn nor deputy Thai army spokesman Veerachon Sukondhadhpatipak were immediately available for comment.

Meanwhile, the United States Ambassador to Thailand, Kristie Kenney, paid a visit to Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva this morning.

Walter Braunohler, spokesman for the US embassy in Bangkok, said Kenney “reiterated” comments made by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who on Monday urged both sides to “immediately take all necessary steps to reduce tensions and avoid further conflict”.

Hundreds more people fled their homes in O’Smach town in Samrong district’s O’Smach commune, seeking shelter and security away from the violence on the border.

Electricity was cut in Samrong district at about 11am this morning for the second time during the clashes. District governor Phun Nol said the power, which is imported from Thailand, had been reconnected yesterday, following an outage on Monday, but local officials were preparing generators to address the issue.

“Right now we have two large spare generators in case Thailand disconnects electricity,” he said.

Journalist faces more defamation allegations

PHOTO: Heng Chivoan

via CAAI

Thursday, 28 April 2011 15:02 Mom Kunthear

Prominent media personality Soy Sopheap was summoned to appear in court next week for questioning over a defamation complaint made by the managing editor of the Norkorwat newspaper, just weeks after he made a public apology in another high-profile defamation case.

Touch Kongkea filed the complaint with the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday against Soy Sopheap, general director of the DAP Media Center.

Touch Kongkea said yesterday that he filed the complaint against Soy Sopheap over defamation and breach of privacy allegations.

“I complained regarding the defamation of myself, through a letter that he wrote [that said] that I had intentions to arrest him and put handcuffs on him, and he checked my personal email to see my documents,” he said, adding that he would not appear at the court on Tuesday but his lawyer would be present.

Soy Sopheap said yesterday from a location near to the ongoing clashes between Thailand and Cambodia in Oddar Meanchey province yesterday that he would appear at the court on Tuesday if the situation at the border improves.

“I have never escaped from the complaints made against me. I will appear at the court on time if the situation at the border is better because I always give respect to the court,” he said.

“But I will suspend my appearance at the court if the situation at the border is still bad, because I have to stay here to report the news for publication for the people to know about the situation at the border between Thailand and Cambodia.”

Soy Sopheap was embroiled in a similar defamation case earlier this month when former Constitutional Council member Son Soubert filed a complaint against him for alleged defamatory comments made about his father, the late resistance leader Son Sann.

Soy Sopheap accused Son Sann of selling land near Preah Vihear temple to Thailand in cooperation with coalition partner and former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan, but made a public apology that resulted in the complaint being withdrawn.

Kampot zoo animals treated

Photo by: Adam Miller
A gibbon at Teuk Chhou zoo, photographed in March, was given medical treatment on Tuesday.

via CAAI

Thursday, 28 April 2011 15:02Adam Miller and Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

closely with Nhem Thy, the animal technical expert at the state’s Forestry Administration, on Tuesday to provide food and medicine to animals that they feared would die before conditions could be improved.

A visit to the zoo last month by The Post gave a first-hand account of the poor treatment of the animals, who appeared malnourished and had little access to food or clean water.

The account sparked interest from the NGO community and prompted zoo owner Nhim Vanda, who is the Vice President of Cambodia’s National Committee for Disaster Management, to ask for external assistance.

“We’re hoping we will be able to help [Nhim Vanda] with his animals, but while negotiations are taking place certain animals were treated as soon as possible ... We didn’t want to lose any of them,” Marx said.

He added that they treated a young male lion that had a festering wound on his back leg with antibiotics and stitches.

A wild boar and a “very sick” gibbon were also helped before the team left medicine behind for the staff to administer.

“There are some wonderful animals. There’s potential for a great conservation initiative with well-cared for animals in nice enclosures if the money is available. Everybody only wants a good outcome,” said Marx.

Nhim Vanda said yesterday he was unaware the visit had taken place.

“I did not know that members from Wildlife Alliance came to my zoo in Kampot because right now I am staying in Oddar Meanchey province to rescue the displaced people there,” he said, adding that he appreciated the work the NGO had done and hoped to meet with them soon to discuss the next step in improving the zoo.

“I do not have enough money to support my animals’ food and improve their living conditions in the zoo. So far, I am still looking for help and financial support from other NGOs,” he said.

Former prosecutor denies charges

Photo by: May Thittara
Top Chan Sereyvuth (centre), a former provincial prosecutor in Pursat province, outside the Pursat provincial court yesterday.

via CAAI

Thursday, 28 April 2011 15:03May Titthara

Pursat Province

The former prosecutor of Pursat province yesterday denied charges of corruption, extortion and false imprisonment, as crowds of onlookers gathered to observe the Anticorruption Unit’s first high-profile court case.

Onlookers, at some points numbering up to 40, surrounded Pursat provinicial court yesterday in order to catch a glimpse of Top Chan Sereyvuth being helped to and from court – due to a medical condition affecting his legs – before being sent away by traffic police.

The former prosecutor, along with bodyguards Chhit Vuthy and Ros Samnang, face charges relating to an incident alleged to have taken place on June 24 last year.

The plaintiff, 28-year-old Khol Sokna, told the court that on June 17 he had led a group of drummers to perform in Anlong Veng district in Oddar Meanchay province.

But due to very heavy rain the performance was cancelled and he did not have enough money to buy food for the group. Subsequently, he agreed to transport wood across Cambodia for US$800 with a $300 advance.

He told the court that a week later, as he drove though Pursat province at around 10:00pm on June 24, he was stopped by two men working for Top Chan Sereyvuth, one of whom, he said, was Chhit Vuthy.

They arrested him and demanded US$8,000 to ensure his release, before taking him to a forestry administration office in Krakor district, he claimed.

They were followed by another car, in which Ros Samnang was alleged to be travelling in.

“I gave US$3,000 to them to release me,” Khol Sokna said.

“I want the court to strongly punish Top Chan Sereyvuth and his partners. I need US$10,000 in compensation because my mother sold a motorbike and a rice field to give these bad people money,” he said.

When Top Chan Sereyvuth, who was arrested on November 29, took the stand he denied all charges against him, including allegations that he ordered his employees to extort money.

The denial came after a handwritten letter, penned at the ACU and read out by the judge, to Prime Minister Hun Sen stating: “I, Top Chan Sereyvuth, am responsible for everything that I described in that sometimes I ordered my brother-in-law, Pich Kong You, and Ros Samnang, who was a driver and bodyguard, to watch out for illegal logging because there are few forestry administrative officials – so they could not crackdown the illegal logging.”

Yesterday, he said: “When the Anticorruption Unit officers asked me, at that time I was so scared. That made me give the wrong answers.

“Actually I did not do what they accused me of because I was in Phnom Penh on June 24, 2010.”

His lawyer, Chea Chhay, reiterated the claim stating that there was no clear evidence against his client.

“I implore the court to drop the accusations and release him on bail from today – let him have his freedom,” he said.

Chhit Vuthy and Ros Samnang also denied all charges against them.

After hearing the evidence, judge Duch Chantha said that the court would announce its verdict on May 12.

Regardless of the verdict, some people seem to have come to their own conclusions.

Te Sothea, 50, a villager in Pursat province who stood in front of the court, said: “If this former prosecutor is released, it is very unfair.”

Analysis: Conflict never far at border

Cluster Bomb found in Preah Vihear.

via CAAI

Thursday, 28 April 2011 15:02James O'Toole

Several months ago, Cambodian officials placed a stone tablet along the contentious border near Preah Vihear temple, immediately drawing the ire of Thai officials.

“Here! is the place where Thai troops invaded Cambodian territory on July 15, 2008, and withdrew at 10:30am on December 1, 2010,” the sign in question read.

Thai Lieutenant General Thawatchai Samutsakhon reportedly said at the time that Thailand “cannot accept” the sign, adding: “If they don’t take it down, I may have a sign with a similar message erected.” Thai premier Abhisit Vejjajiva told reporters in Bangkok that he had ordered military officials to contact Cambodia about removing the offending message.

Cambodian officials complied, only to replace it with a new sign reading: “Here! is Cambodia.” This marker provoked a fresh round of protests in Bangkok and was also removed in short order.

However comical this episode appeared at the time, it was emblematic of excessive nationalism and continual provocations that have characterised Thai-Cambodian relations over the past few years.

This dynamic has long been exploited by politicians on both sides, and, with troops massed along the border, has left the two countries perpetually on the brink of conflict. Now, analysts say, Thailand’s renegade military has brought these long-simmering tensions to a boil, resulting in the bloodiest fighting the Kingdom has seen in years. “There’s every suspicion that the Thais have been the aggressor … and that Thai aggression along the border is part of a much bigger game in Thai domestic politics,” said Michael Montesano, a visiting fellow at Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

At least 14 have been killed since fighting first broke out last Friday along the Thai-Cambodian border near Oddar Meanchey province, with dozens wounded and thousands of civilians displaced on both sides of the border.

Fighting stretched into a sixth day yesterday, and has come amid a crackdown in Thailand on the anti-government “Red Shirt” movement and others perceived to be associated with former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra. The populist Thaksin, ousted in a 2006 military coup, lives abroad to avoid graft charges but remains the country’s most controversial figure.


We have to ask why this is happening now, and my bottom line is it comes down to Thai politics and ... the Thai military


This week, Thai police raided 13 Red Shirt radio stations, and earlier this month, Thai army chief Praytuh Chan-ocha threatened lese majeste charges against Red Shirt leaders and a prominent academic for allegedly defaming Thailand’s revered monarchy. The monarch himself, 83-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej, has been hospitalised since 2009, and anxiety is high about how a looming royal succession will play out.

Elections expected by July, and the possibility of a Red Shirt victory, provide a backdrop to fears within the conservative military that Thailand’s existing order is increasingly under threat.

“We have to ask why this is happening now, and my bottom line is that it comes down to Thai politics and the maneuvering of the Thai military,” said Carl Thayer, a professor at the Australian Defence Force Academy. The border fighting, he said, has allowed the military to take an increasingly prominent role and exert its will over the civilian government.

Montesano agreed, saying the Thai military may be using the renewed conflict at the border “to provoke such an air of crisis that they have the ability to steer things the way they want”.

But while Thailand may be on the aggressive this week, Cambodia and its rhetorically unrestrained premier have also played a role in raising tensions over the years, said Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights.

“Do you dare to swear on magic that could break your neck, on a plane crash or a dissolution of the countries, that your soldiers did not invade Cambodia’s territory?” Hun Sen said in a speech last year, apparently addressing Abhisit. More recently, the government has irritated Bangkok by sentencing a pair of Thai nationalists to lengthy jail terms for espionage after they were arrested in December for allegedly trespassing in Banteay Meanchey province.

“In the time of conflict, people look to the strongman,” Ou Virak said, adding that Hun Sen was now engaged in a “balancing act” between continuing to play upon nationalistic sentiment and ensuring that the conflict does not spiral further out of control.

In statements over the past week, the government has acknowledged the difficulty it would face should the hostilities continue to escalate, referring to Thailand’s “larger and materially more sophisticated armed forces” in condemning the country’s alleged attacks.

Thayer said Hun Sen had used the border conflict “to great effect” in domestic politics while at the same time currying favour internationally by appealing for third party mediation over the recalcitrance of the Thais, who insist on bilateral talks.

The premier has announced his intention to bring the dispute before the Association of Southeast Asian Nations next month after previously appealing to the United Nations Security Council. Despite these moves, though, he has shown no inclination to be more diplomatic in his language, saying yesterday that he had “never met a Thai prime minister as bad as Abhisit”.

Abhisit, for his part, said yesterday that Cambodia must “stop the shooting first” before the two sides can move to the negotiating table, Thai state media reported.

“It’s a kind of game going on,” Thayer said. “But it’s a dangerous game, because people are getting killed.”

Hun Sen steps into fray

    Photo by: Reuters
    A Thai army tank drives down a road in Surin province near the Thai-Cambodian border yesterday as Cambodian and Thai troops clashed with heavy artillery for a sixth day.
    Phnom Penh speaks out

    Puth Dany, 36 Fruit seller
    “The Thais want to invade our territory near the temples but that land belongs to Cambodia. That’s the reason why the Thais are making war with Cambodia and the international community knows that.
    “I am Khmer and I am so hurt when these conflicts take place in our country. There are a lot of difficulties when war happens, especially with the civilians along the border. They suffer. We’ve had enough war already.
    “I hope our country and the people who live along the border are safe.”

    Khun Ra, 23 Moto-dop
    “I have little knowledge as to the reasons for the Khmer- Thai conflict, but I am very scared when I hear about it.
    “I know that there are so many problems associated with war. When we have war people die or become injured, especially our soldiers.
    “I know that the people who live in Oddar Meanchey and Preah Vihear were evacuated. They’ve lost their homes and relatives.
    “Even though I am in Phnom Penh, I’m worried. I am proud of our soldiers who are very brave to defend our territory. It seems like the Thai always want to invade our land along the border.”

    Nhel Navy, 17 Student/waitress
    “I am so worried for the people who live and work along the border. They are really scared when the they hear the guns and each time they face war.
    “I don’t want the war to happen. There are so many people who are being evacuated and it reminds me of what happened when the Pol Pot regime was in power.
    “It’s difficult for them to live, sleep, and find food. They could even face disease, but the government and donors will help them.”

    Eng Rina, 14 High school student
    “I study the history of Cambodia in school. Our temples, like Preah Vihear, Ta Moan and Ta Krabey belong to Cambodia.
    “Our right [to Preah Vihear] is recognised by UNESCO, that’s what I know from studying. “The Thais should not commit activities like this and our government really condemns the Thais who are invading our land. There’s no excuse for the Thais who are fighting against Cambodians.
    “We want safety and security for our country and I think that our government is struggling with Thailand over this border conflict. We are just defending our territory.”

    Vong Mey, 70 Street vendor
    “I’ve experienced war before, under the Pol Pot regime. My life has been so full of war and I know there are many difficulties.
    “I don’t want the war to happen again. I want safety for the country.
    “The people who are living in Phnom Penh don’t face the same difficulties as the people who are living along the border.
    “They have had to move far away from their homeland and plantations. I understand how those people are feeling and I have pity for them because we are all Khmer.”

    Paul Rache, 56 Business owner
    “The temple [of Preah Vihear] belongs to Cambodia.
    “It’s costing a lot of money to keep troops there on both sides and I think the two countries should look for a compromise.
    “I’m not concerned about our safety in Phnom Penh but every time we have fighting up there it interferes with commerce, not only along the border, but throughout Thailand and Cambodia as well.”

    Interviews by Sen David and Kenneth Ingram

    via CAAI

    Thursday, 28 April 2011 15:03 Cheang Sokha and Vong Sokheng

    Oddar Meanchey province

    Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday proposed that ceasefire talks be held with Thailand at an upcoming regional summit, as the border conflict entered a sixth straight day.

    Speaking at the Council of Ministers, Hun Sen said he wanted to talk with Thai Premier Abhisit Vejjajiva during a May 7-8 meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Jakarta.

    “Cambodia calls for a ceasefire,” Hun Sen said, “Abhisit has expressed his intention to negotiate a ceasefire ... which we welcome. The negotiations have to be held during the meeting of the 10 ASEAN countries. I will talk to Abhisit in front of the faces of ASEAN.”

    Hun Sen said he would raise the issue even if it were not on the agenda and argued that the dispute over territory adjacent to Preah Vihear temple must involve participation by a third party because it had been raised to the United Nations Security Council and ASEAN.

    After fighting near the temple in February killed at least 10, the Security Council endorsed efforts by ASEAN, chaired by Indonesia, to facilitate negotiations.

    Hun Sen added, however, that he would support bilateral talks over other contested areas, including those near Ta Moan and Ta Krabey temples, the scene of violent clashes since Friday, which have killed at least 14.

    The comments followed a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that said Cambodia considered a resolution passed on Tuesday by the Thai cabinet to be “tantamount to a declaration of war against Cambodia”.  The Thai cabinet resolution supported “retaliatory military action to push Cambodian soldiers out of the disputed area”.

    Despite the call for talks, Hun Sen also took the chance to hit out at Abhisit, who he labeled a “cruel” aggressor in the conflict.

    “I have never met a Thai prime minister as bad as Abhisit. He was cruel, ordered the attack on Cambodia and threatened to take control of Cambodia,” he said.

    “Cambodia is poor and small, but our weapons are not like a slingshot, and don’t forget that the ant can hurt the elephant,” he said.

    Both countries accuse each other of aggression in clashes that have spanned six days and taken the lives of at least eight Cambodian and five Thai soldiers. Fighting has been concentrated along the border near Oddar Meanchey province, but also broke out on Tuesday at Veal Entry and Phnom Trop, just kilometres away from Preah Vihear temple.

    Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said one Thai civilian had been killed in the hostilities, which has seen heavy artillery from both sides.

    Panitan said yesterday that Abhisit was not willing to hold negotiations in front of ASEAN but was willing to meet Hun Sen bilaterally and only after Cambodia ceased “attacking Thai territory”.

    Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya is expected to meet with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa today to “finalise” negotiations over terms of reference that would allow neutral observers to monitor the border near Preah Vihear temple, Panitan said.

    Cambodia and Thailand stated in February that they would allow Indonesian observers to monitor a ceasefire. However, Thailand failed to sign terms of reference for the observers amid sharp objections from the military.

    Thani Thongphakdi, spokesman for the Thai Foreign Ministry, said that once the terms of reference were finalised, Cambodia would have to remove all troops from the disputed area as well as the temple at Preah Vihear, which lies in Cambodian territory according to a 1962 international court ruling, before Thailand would allow observers.

    Thani argued that keeping soldiers at Preah Vihear temple would violate the 1954 Hague Convention and a 1972 Convention, both of which concern the protection of cultural property.

    Amid talks over negotiations, fighting continued and displaced families expressed concern over their extended state of limbo yesterday.

    The Ministry of Defense said in a statement that fighting reignited at about 5am and lasted about three hours. No casualties were reported.

    Reurn Heng, a frontline soldier near Ta Moan temple, said gunfire was exchanged in the morning at Ta Krabey temple, about 10 kilometres away, and lasted over an hour. Gunshots were also traded at noon, he said, but ended quickly.

    Uy Sam Ath, director of disaster management department at the Cambodian Red Cross, said yesterday the number of displaced villagers had increased to 6,643 families, or roughly 26,572 people, predominantly women and children being sheltered at eight temporary camps.

    “The number increased after they came from O’Smach [town],” he said, adding that civilians may be forced to camp out for as long as a month, with no clear end to the fighting in sight.

    Several hundred families fled from O’Smach town, in Samrong district’s O’Smach commune in Oddar Meanchey province, on Tuesday night to a relief centre in Samrong town, some 48 kilometres away, travelling by truck, motorbike and foot through the rain. One relief centre at Tham Mayuth pagoda became overcrowded, pushing families to seek shelter at another camp at Chok Krous about two kilometres away.

    “We arrived here at about 11pm under the rain, and we did not eat dinner last night,” said Chan Samnang, a former soldier who fled O’Smach with his four children. “I’m concerned about my family’s security.
    We don’t know for sure when we can go back.” Phorn Sophorn, an Oddar Meanchey provincial police officer who was overseeing the site, said the new infusion of displaced villagers was stretching resources.