1. Border Dispute, 1953 - 1963 2. Forced Repatriation of Cambodian Refugees, 1979 3. Construction of a Road from the Cambodian Side, 2002 - 2003
4. Bangkok Post Articles
Alternative spelling: Khao Phra Wihaan
In Khmer: Preah Vihear
1. Border Dispute, 1953 - 1963
( Different sources give different dates on the same event )
Siam cedes territories (present-day northeast Cambodia) to French Indo-China. Khao Phra Viharn now stands on the international border (map). Precise demarcation and mapping are to be carried out by a Franco-Siamese Mixed Commission. , but the Commission ceases to function. France makes a demarcation map on its own and sends it to Siam who neither approves or disapproves it.
Siam carries out its own survey and discovers divergence between the French-made map and the real watershed, but she doesn't make appeal or protest. Siam creates its own demarcation map, but she doesn't send it to France or Cambodia.
World War II
Under the Japanese mediation, Thailand regains territories south of Khao Phra Viharn.
Under international pressures, Thailand recedes regained territories to French Indo-China, making Khao Phra Wihaan again stand on the international border.
Cambodia gains independence from France.
Cambodian soldiers encounter Thai police constables at Khao Phra Wihaan, thus the beginning of the dispute.
Thai border police occupy Khao Phra Viharn.
Thailand and Cambodia hold negotiations in Bangkok.
Cambodia abducts 32 Thais from Chanthaburi.
Sarit fortifies Thai Army positions along the border and takes control of the disputed Phra Viharn.
Cambodian government decides to suspend diplomatic relations with Thailand.
After a UN special envoy's visit to the border area, both countries agree to normalise ties.
The Court accepts the application and institutes proceedings. Thailand raises objections to its jurisdiction.
The Government is to ask M.R. Seni Pramoj to represent Thailand at the International Court of Justice over Khao Phra Viharn.
General Prapart Charusathien, Minister of the Interior, gives up eating Cambodian fish over the Khao Phra Viharn dispute.
Momrajwong Seni Pramoj, advocate for Thailand, says in a statement on TV that he is 100 percent certain of winning the Khao Phra Viharn case.
The official police spokesman appealed to the public not to hold parades and demonstrations over Khao Phra Viharn.
The International Court of Justice gives Cambodia a deadline of January 20 to file its complaints over Khao Phra Viharn.
Cambodia will take the dispute with Thailand regarding possession of Khao Phra Viharn to the International Court of Justice.
Momrajwong Seni Pramoj is honored to defend Thailand in the Khao Phra Viharn case, without fee.
Prime Minister Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat hopes the UN will not permit Thailand to lose any beloved treasures, such as Khao Phra Viharn.
The last $2,500 of the Free Thai movement funds will be turned over to help the expenses of the Khao Phra Viharn World Court case.
Foreign Ministry tries to refute charges by a newspaper that it has done nothing useful in the Khao Phra Viharn case.
The Court holds that it has jurisdiction over Thailand.
Sarit makes a speech that Cambodian leaders are courting communist countries and allowing them sanctuary with the aim of destroying the countries in Southeast Asia.
Cambodia severes ties with Thailand. All border areas adjacent to Cambodia were sealed.
"...the Thais in March found a new way to irritate the Cambodians by forbidding them to land at Bangkok Airport (the Cambodians promptly retaliated)..."
Court hearing begins.
The Court rules (9 vs. 3 votes) that Khao Phra Viharn belongs to Cambodia.
"When the World Court awarded a frontier temple to Thailand's traditional enemy, Cambodia, Sarit was ready to refuse to hand it over. Bhumibol said the court's order would be obeyed."
Thailand believes US presidential adviser Mr Dean Acheson has misused his official position to act for Cambodia in the Khao Phra Viharn case.
Students of five universities are to march in Bangkok today to protest the World Court judgment for Cambodia over Khao Phra Viharn.
Over 200 demonstrations have been held over Khao Phra Viharn and the government is asking people to return to work.
Thailand will insist on a full demarcation of the border with Cambodia because of the unjust Khao Phra Viharn verdict.
A Cambodian infantry company entered Thailand to try to reach Khao Phra Viharn Temple but was driven off by gunfire.
Jan 15 ?
Sihanouk attends flag-raising ceremony at Khao Phra Viharn.
In a televised address, PM Sarit explains that Thailand will comply with the Court ruling and withdraw from Khao Phra Viharn.
Khao Phra Viharn is officially returned to Cambodia.
1. Thailand: King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the Golden Jubilee 1946 - 1996 (p. 70)
2. International Court of Justice (Linked below)
3. Preah Vihear speech (Quoted below)
4. History of Thailand and Cambodia, Manich Jumsai (Quoted below)
5. Annual Report for Cambodia, 1962
6. Nation Article: Shattered Ties
7. The King of Thailand in World Focus, Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand
8. 40 Years Ago / Bangkok Post
International Court of Justice / Case Summaries
1. Preliminary Objections - Judgment of 26 May 1961
2. Merits - Judgment of 15 June 1962 cf. List of all cases brought before the court
History of Thailand and Cambodia, Manich Jumsai, p213
The question of Preah Vihear Temple is really unfortunate. It is a real misunderstanding. It happened out of a molehill which, fired by the pride of politicians on both sides, had become a mountain whose right must be defended by both sides to the last.
Nobody, neither in Thailand nor in Cambodia, seemed to know anything about Preah Vihear and its importance as a historical monument. What is worse nobody really knows where is the frontier. The Foreign Office of Thailand did not possess the map annexed to the Franco-Thai Treaty of 1907 which was made by Lt.-Col. Bernard, with the knowledge of the Thai commissioners who in 1907 had no knowledge of map-making and rather left to Bernard to draw it up and then to endorse it. There was no military occupation of the Preah Vihear Temple as asserted by some American and French historians. Nobody knew of it. It was left in the jungle, until a short while before the dispute, somebody went to see it, talked about it, and other people, including the police, as private individuals went to see it, and thus it became a centre of tourism on the Thai side, when it also awoke Sihanouk to the feeling that he must claim it, in order to make himself more popular among his own people. The Thai of course thought that this was unjust since the temple perched on a hill top, accessible from their side of the frontier looking over a steep precipice on to the Cambodian plain beneath. Since no archives were started and the map annexed to the treaty was lost, the Thai thought that out of geographical reasons, it could not have belonged to Cambodia. As early as 1939 while I was in the Ministry of Education I conceived of an idea of having a map depicting historical sites printed and distributed to schools. I therefore took the matter up with my colleagues in the Fine Arts Department, who gave me along with other pictures to copy on to the map also the picture of the Preah Vihear Temple within the boundaries of Thailand. This temple was therefore printed on the map at the time, 10,000 copies made that same year and distributed to all the schools in Thailand. Preah Vihear, being on the side of Thai watershed, not accessible from the Cambodian side because of the high precipice, unless a staircase was made, was taken to be within Thailand and nobody seemed to doubt it at the time. The second time I heard of it was when I became a police officer, and member of the National Police Council. One day in 1953 the Director-General of the National Police Department, the late General Phao Sriyanonda, in the usual monthly meeting of the Police Council, mentioned to the members of the council about the Preah Vihear Temple that a group of police constables, without instruction from anybody, and following in the wake of a flow of tourists, went to see the temple out of curiosity as simple private individuals and stayed on top. During their stay a group of Cambodian soldiers came along, and when they saw the Thai police lying about in the temple, they said nothing and went away.
The Cambodian Government, or rather Prince Sihanouk, took this to be Thai occupation of the place, and the Thai said nothing. A big campaign was made at once by Sihanouk to make it into a big affair, apparently to impress the people in his usual tactic in making himself popular, that the place was intruded and occupied by a Thai military force, and that he would drive them out. This sparked off also Thai pride to put up a resistance against the accusation, by holding on to it. After this the campaign went hotter and hotter, and both earnestly believed that the place was part of their kingdom and how could it be given up without injuring national prestige. In 1955 Prince Sihanouk wanted to participate more fully in Cambodian politics by taking the reign of government himself. He abdicated and appointed his father, Suramarit, king instead. Sihanouk who felt that Thailand was his enemy, who were waiting for the chance to annex his country, was even more convinced by the Preah Vihear incident that Thailand was having designs on his country. The temple was made an object of general attacks by mass media and as Marshal Sarit also broke out in vehemence, Sihanouk broke off diplomatic relations with Thailand in 1959, and brought the case before the International Court of Justice at the Hague. At the time Marshall Sarit was the Thai Prime Minister, and he appointed Seni Pramoj, ex-Prime Minister and Head of Free Thai Movement, a well-known Thai lawyer, to defend the case. As a lawyer, of course, he had no historical knowledge of Preah Vihear and looked at the matter from a purely legal angle. The French strongly supported Cambodia against Thailand and provided all sots of documents preserved in their national archives, which the Thai did not possess. Unfortunately quite unaware, the map was completely contrary to all expectations because it departed from the natural watershed and went round into Thailand at the point where Preah Vihear was located. The court would not consider any geographical reason nor any international usage ruling, but stuck to what was to be found in the map. So Thailand lost the case on the 15th June 1962. The breach between Thailand and Cambodia widened. Thai amour-proper was hurt, especially when her ally, the U.S.A., took the side of Cambodia. Quite aggrieved over the situation, Marshal Sarit gave vent to his grief over Thai broadcast. This gave an impression to Sihanouk even further that Thailand was thinking of preparing for the offensive against the integrity of Cambodia. After a few days Marshall Sarit got over his grief and complied with the decision of the International Court of Justice.
Preah Vihear Speech
In 1953, Preah Vihear was invaded by Thailand armed forces as its belonging. With greatest efforts by His Majesty King Norodom Sihanuk who has led previous Royal Government of Cambodia, the King himself has done through many diplomatic channels with Thailand in order to get Preah Vihea back, but it was refused by Thailand. To follow any treaty: Any dispute that can’t be reached by diplomatic channel or agreement shall have been given to one or many arbitrators. And if there is no arbitrator, then it shall have given to permanent international court, where our highly respected His Royal Highness, the King had submitted the case to LAHE international court.
Victory had been given to Cambodia on 15th January 1962, under the decision of the international court, “Preah Vihea belongs to Cambodia, and geographically is on Cambodian land. On the 5th January 1963, after visiting Chom khsan district for newly inauguration our Royal Highness His Majesty the King of Cambodia; The Father of national Patrimony had traveled to Preah Vihear, 40 Km away form Chom khsan district center for our traditional Buddhist religious ceremony; and also to be presided raising Cambodian flag ceremony as a symbol of the returning of our beloved national inheritance that had been stolen by Thai force in 1953.
2. Forced Repatriation of Cambodian Refugees, 1979
On a cliff in Cambodia old Preah Vihear temple has tragic recent past
In 1979, Thailand was being flooded by refugees from Cambodia who fled as the Vietnamese army drove the Khmer Rouge from power.
On June 8, 1979, the Thai army gathered thousands of desperate Cambodians from all over eastern Thailand and trucked them to the border at Preah Vihear. They were forced to march down the steep slopes back to their country.
"The path down the mountains became steeper, the jungle thicker," British journalist William Shawcross wrote in describing the scene in his book "The Quality of Mercy."
"Dozens, scores of people fell onto mines. Those with possessions had to abandon them to carry their children down. One group of refugees desperately pooled whatever valuables they had left, filled two buckets with them, and walked back up toward the Thai soldiers, carrying a white flag. The soldiers took the buckets and then shot the refugees."
About 45,000 refugees were compelled to make the risky trek down the slope, Shawcross estimates. There are no definitive figures on casualties, but they are thought to have numbered in the thousands.
Seeking Shelter: Cambodians in Thailand, (1987), Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, p26
Alarmed by the overwhelming scale of new refugees from Indochina, Thai officials resorted to severe measures to stem the flood of aliens. A series of forced and violent repatriations of Cambodians culminated on June 8, 1979, when some 43,000 were bussed from camps in eastern Thailand to Preah Vihear on the northern border with Cambodia, and were forced at gunpoint to stumble down a mine-strewn mountainside. Thousands were maimed or killed.
The Thai action provoked an international outcry. The international attention that Thailand's drastic measures drew ultimately produced a commitment by other nations to share the burden of assisting Cambodians displaced by their nation's upheavals. At the Foreign Ministers' meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations shortly after the Preah Vihear incident, U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance promised the Thai government that the United States would help arrange international support for Cambodians fleeing to Thailand, and that it would also be generous in resettling those Cambodians. Seeking to revive Thailand's willingness to afford first asylum, other Western nations and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees offered similar assurances. The combined pressure and promises of support from other countries and organizations induced Thailand to adopt a more generous policy toward the Cambodians streaming out of their country, and Cambodians collected at the border in greater numbers than before.
3. Construction of a Road from the Cambodian Side, 2002 - 2003
November 25, 1997 Army asked to help trace Belgians
Belgium has asked the army to help search for two people who have disappeared near the Thai-Cambodian border in Si Sa Ket since May 1994.
The army chief, Gen Chettha Thanajaro, said Belgian Ambassador to Thailand Christina Zchlicof had asked the army to look for two Belgian nationals who went missing at Mor I-Daeng, a mountain in Si Sa Ket opposite Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple ruins some three years ago.
Gen Chettha told Mrs Zchlicof the army would seek as much information as possible about the missing Belgians before seeking Phnom Penh's cooperation to help find them.
An army source said it was highly likely the two Belgians and a Briton who went missing at Mor I-Deang were already dead, judging from the information received from an army intelligence unit.
The two Belgians parked their vehicles at the foot of Mor I-Daeng, went up the mountain and have been missing ever since.
March 30, 1998 Historic temple said to be under govt hold
A senior Cambodian military official said the historic Khmer Rouge-held temple of Preah Vihear on the Thai-Cambodian border fell under government control early yesterday when the guerrillas occupying it defected.
Deputy Chief of Staff Meas Sophea, speaking to reporters in this military base about 60 kilometers south of the Khmer Rouge base of Anlong Veng, said the guerrilla division garrisoned there had "shaken hands" with government troops at 7.30 a.m. Sunday morning.
Thailand's Suranaree Task Force Commander Maj-Gen Vivat Sasrat said it was most likely now that the Khmer Rouge commanders controlling Preah Vihear have switched loyalty to the government.
"From the information I have obtained, it's now 90% confirmed that a ceremony will be held at midnight tonight (last night) to hand over the control of Preah Vihear to the government. Celebrations of some sort are now underway," Maj-Gen Vivat said.
"The Khmer Rouge shook hands with members of the government's division number one," Meas Sophea said. "There was no fighting and the (defecting) commander, Uth Heuon, said the temple is safe, there is no damage."
He said more than 1,000 civilians in the immediate vicinity of the temple and a further 6,000 living to the east were affected by the defection of Uth Heuon's Khmer Rouge division 616.
The alleged defection comes as the government is making a concerted push to lure defectors from the Khmer Rouge in their remaining strongholds.
Preah Vihear is an ancient Buddhist temple that sits on a mountain astride the Thai-Cambodian border.
Long-claimed and occupied by Thailand, the temple was awarded to Cambodia by the International Court of Justice in The Hague in 1961.
Anlong Veng, the largest such stronghold located some 65 kilometers west of Preah Vihear, was said yesterday to be partly under the control of the government as fighting continued.
Maj-Gen Vivat could only confirm that fighting was going on at Anlong Veng and that some 4,000 civilians have left the place and were heading towards the Thai border.
"We have to wait and see for a few more days before being able to say what is actually happening there," Maj-Gen Vivat said.
According to a reporter, Phnom Penh troops and their allies were late Saturday occupying the tiny hamlet of Anlong Veng near the centre of the last refuge of the rebels who ruled Cambodia during the "Killing Fields" years.
But while troops held the village at the foot of a range of mountains, their grip appeared shaky as the hardline Khmer Rouge appeared to be in control of most of the high ground.
The village - which had been at the centre of the Khmer Rouge's mysterious world for years - was Saturday all but deserted after most of the 10,000 civilians in the area fled to safety near the Thai border.
Chickens, pigs and other livestock ran freely through the deserted village of shacks, terrified by the sounds of fighting and after being left with no food as government troops and their new allies took control.
The government brought reporters to the area by truck in the first such access to Anlong Veng from the Cambodian side since 1994.
The journalists were holed up in a shack in the village as they came under barrages of anti-aircraft gun fire from the Khmer Rouge above them.
The spot is one to two kilometers from the homes of the two guerrilla leaders Khieu Samphan and Ta Mok, who had left the area two days before defectors launched a mutiny here last Wednesday.
Access to the centre of the Khmer Rouge operation here - deserted by the leadership last week - was impossible amid heavy but sporadic clashes in the area.
At least one Phnom Penh soldier was injured in one attack which took place in the several hours that reporters were here, while Khmer Rouge commanders sent three men down from the hills in a failed attempt to ambush the visiting party from behind.
Anlong Veng is a remote jungle stronghold of the Khmer Rouge and is made up of scores of villages set in tough and inhospitable countryside.
It was not immediately clear how much of the sprawling Anlong Veng area the government controlled, but analysts stressed that the control of a handful of villages did not amount to the base being totally overrun.
April 1, 1998 Hun Sen troops take Preah Vihear
Some 267 Cambodian civilians who fled their homes as Phnom Penh troops thrust into Preah Vihear hamlet, which has long been under Khmer Rouge sway, were yesterday taken to a refugee camp in Surin province.
The former governor of Preah Vihear, Mean Salin, who was among the refugees, said that Hun Sen troops had taken control of the historic temple of Preah Vihear (Khao Phra Viharn) on Monday.
He said Khmer Rouge soldiers guarding the temple had defected to the government forces.
The Cambodians who fled across the border were taken by trucks from Kantharalak border district in Si Sa Ket to the Huay Choeng camp in Kap Choeng district of Surin. They were accompanied by troops from the 23rd Rangers Regiment.
The latest exodus of refugees brought the number of Cambodians seeking refuge in this camp to 18,244, said Hang Yuth, former deputy governor of Preah Vihear.
Of the refugees, 8,735 were men and 9,499 women, added Mr Hang Yuth, also the leader of the refugees.
If the situation in Cambodia returned to normal, Cambodians would go back to their homeland to exercise their voting rights during the election scheduled to be held on July 26, said the former deputy governor.
At Anlong Veng, which is about 65 kilometres west of Preah Vihear, an estimated 6,000 Cambodians were poised to cross the border into Si Sa Ket. They had massed at the Cha-ngam border pass in Phusing district here, said a border official.
They fled as the battle for the Anlong Veng jungle base continued sporadically for the fourth day. The base, which is the Khmer Rouge headquarters, was said to be partly under the control of government troops.
Fierce fighting inside Cambodia and the exodus of refugees prompted the Suranaree Task Force to deploy its troops to guard the Thai border.
July 26, 1998 Ancient Khmer temple to reopen to visitors Aug 1
The ancient Khmer temple of Preah Vihear (Khao Phra Viharn) will be reopened to the public on August 1, Thai border officials said yesterday.
Cambodian authorities guarantee safety for tourists as they have cleared some of the landmines, said the officials.
Thai and Cambodian authorities confirmed the reopening on Friday.
Tourists are required to pay entrance fees to Cambodia - 100 baht for an adult and 50 baht for a child. Thai visitors will be charged at 30 baht per head and students in uniform will pay only five baht for a visit. The opening hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
According to officials, authorities concerned on the Thai side have decided against collecting admission fees because of the slump and alleged corruption in the past.
The mountaintop temple located along the Thai-Cambodian border had been closed for years due to fighting in Cambodia.
August 2, 1998 Tourists flock to Preah Vihear
The strategic hilltop Preah Vihear Temple was under siege yesterday, not by Cambodian government forces or remnants of the Khmer Rouge, but by thousands of mostly local tourists, young and old.
The temple, built in 1038, was opened to tourists yesterday under a bilateral agreement between the Thai and Cambodian armies on a trial basis, after being closed since 1993 due to fighting in Cambodia.
Maj-Gen Virat Satharak, commander of the Suranaree Task Force, said if all went well, concerned ministers - interior, finance and foreign affairs - would be called upon to work out the formalities for an agreement at the national level between Bangkok and Phnom Penh for an official and permanent opening of the temple for tourism.
He could not say how long the trial period would take but what Thai and Cambodian armies were looking to ensure is the safety of all tourists and the appropriate management of tourism at the temple grounds.
For now, the temple will be opened daily, 8.00 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cambodian officials charge foreign tourists 100 baht for the adults and 50 baht for children while Thai tourists 30 baht for adults and 5 baht for children, students in uniforms and monks.
The Thai side will charge nothing, but expects to benefit from sales by the souvenir shops and restaurant at the foot of the temple which is on Thai soil, and parking fees. Later, it expects to include the temple as a key tourist destination of Si Sa Ket.
"The opening of Preah Vihear temple represents the stabilisation of the political and military situation in the area," said Maj-Gen Virat.
The Khmer Rouge is no longer a significant military force in Cambodia. "There are daily defections," he said.
The guerrillas usually move in groups of 50-60 and can cause only minor disturbances," he said.
"We're sure it's safe for tourists," the commander said. Mr Chuen Savudh, a representative of the Cambodian Defence Ministry, echoed the remarks.
Both said they were pleased the temple was opened to visitors again for tourism and also to study the history and art of Preah Vihear.
The temple, which is located atop a hill over 650 metres above sea level and just 65km from the Khmer Rouge stronghold at Anlong Veng, has been under guerrilla control since 1993. It fell to government forces only because of defections by the guerrillas following the death of Pol Pot.
Maj-Gen Virat brushed aside questions on the timing of the opening, which coincides with the completion of vote counting of the July 26 general election in Cambodia.
"Some people may think we should wait for the election results and the formation of a government in Phnom Penh, but we're ready and don't want to waste any more time. We've wasted enough time already and should take the opportunity to benefit the local people, the country and the revival of the economy," he said.
More than one thousand tourists flocked to the temple by noon time. Cambodian officials who had prepared 700 tickets ran out by around 10 a.m. and were recycling tickets.
Even the elderly were climbing the steep steps of the temple with much enthusiasm, and parents carried infants.
December 6, 1998 Last KR fighters surrender
The last Khmer Rouge fighters have surrendered to the Cambodian government, isolating their fugitive leaders and ending the radical group's 20-year-long war against the government.
Friday's surrender ceremony, at the Preah Vihear temple near the Thai border, was shown on government television yesterday.
Khem Nuon, chief of staff of the remaining band of guerrillas, negotiated the deal with representatives of the Phnom Penh government.
"We ask for permission from the Royal Government of Cambodia to rejoin society and the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces," Khem Nuon said in the surrender statement.
"These are the last commanders of the Khmer Rouge. They represent the Khmer Rouge across the country. It's the end of the Khmer Rouge," said General Meas Sophea, deputy armed forces chief.
Among the group who surrendered was Khem Nguon, Ta Mok's chief of staff, and Non Nou, who is believed to be Ta Mok's top money man. Military men Dul Saroeun, Khim Them, Iem Phan and a son-in-law in law of Ta Mok, Meas Muth, also surrendered. Most of them are believed to be in their late forties.
"From now on we will follow the government's political platform and the constitution and respect the orders of the government armed forces," Iem Phan said.
He said the decision to defect was made after the formation of a new government on November 30. He promised the group would be neutral and not align itself with any political party.
Not included in the surrender deal, however, were the fighters' three top surviving leaders, Tak Mok, Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea.
Khem Nuon indicated the rank and file had broken with the three.
"All of us are committed to not believing and following Ta Mok, Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, the criminals, any more," he said.
Co-defence minister Tea Banh yesterday told AFP the government was searching for Khieu Samphan and Ta Mok.
In a telephone interview with Nate Thayer of the Far Eastern Economic Review, who first broke news of the surrender, Khem Nuon said the three were "retired" and refused to give more details.
The Cambodian government and the United States has expressed a desire to capture all three and make them stand trial for genocide and crimes against humanity.
Khem Nuon claimed he was negotiating on behalf of 5,000 remaining ragtag troops and 15,000 civilians living under Khmer Rouge control.
Mr Thayer said, however, that he believed the estimate of fighting men was inflated, and many of the civilians were living in the Phu Noi refugee camp in Thailand.
Defence ministry sources in Phnom Penh told AFP they were unsure how many troops had defected, but said they expected the number to be "very few," probably less than 1,000.
While it was possible there were some tiny bands of guerrillas still wandering the jungles, Mr Thayer said he knew of no sizable Khmer Rouge fighting force that could pose a threat to the government.
The surrender comes less than a month after Cambodian strongman Hun Sen and Prince Norodom Ranariddh, whom he ousted as co-prime minister in a bloody 1997 coup, struck their own deal to end the country's political deadlock.
A further success flowing from that deal on Friday was the clearing of the way for Cambodia to reoccupy its United Nations seat, vacant since the coup. A General Assembly committee recommended acceptance of the credentials of a delegation appointed by the new government.
The chairman, Ambassador Michael Powles of New Zealand, said the committee acted at a closed-door meeting that lasted only a few minutes. Formal endorsement of the committee's recommendation by General Assembly was likely to take place tomorrow, he said.
May 5, 1999 Border pass to be opened
An Ma border pass will be opened next Tuesday to facilitate cross-border trade with Cambodia.
Thai and Cambodian officials yesterday met at the provincial hall to discuss security and trade along the border with Preah Vihear province of Cambodia, and to consider Cambodia's request to reopen An Ma pass for trade, which had been shut down due to the recent civil war in Cambodia.
The Thai side was led by Governor Siwa Saengmanee and Preah Vihear Governor Prieb Tan headed the Cambodian delegation.
Mr Prieb Tan told the meeting Phnom Penh had already approved the reopening of the border pass and wanted Bangkok to do the same as border trade would help to ease the food shortage in Cambodia. He insisted the civil war in Cambodia had ended and Cambodia would strictly abide by its agreements with Thailand to prevent and suppress the smuggling of war weapons and artefacts.
Mr Siwa said Thai authorities were concerned about the smuggling of war weapons, illegal goods, stolen cars and drugs, and urged Cambodian officials to provide the province with information about these illegal activities to ensure security along the border.
The two sides agreed to reopen the border unofficially, with a Thai market and a Cambodian market for trade located at either end of the border pass.
Meanwhile, the National Security Council has asked all concerned agencies to be thorough in screening requests from private individuals to open temporary or permanent border passes, especially with Burma and Cambodia.
The NSC has found many of the requests were in fact meant to enable cross-border travel to casinos set up by Thais in the two countries, even though the requests were ostensibly for tourism purposes.
Regarding the request by Prasit Pothasuthon-who is managing director of Vitvas International Co and older brother of Deputy Interior Minister Prapat Pothasuthon-to open a temporary border pass at Ban Sop Ruak in Chiang Rai's Chiang Saen district, the ministry has asked the province to provide details on the pros and cons of opening this pass.
Upon receiving this information, the Interior Ministry will forward the request to the NSC for consideration, a source at the ministry said.
July 25, 2001 Minister erases proof of talks on temple's 'lease'
Cambodia says it has annulled the signed records of a meeting between Thai and Cambodian officials on the so-called "lease" of Preah Vihear temple.
In a July 17 letter to Somsak Thepsutin, PM's Office minister for tourism, Cambodia's minister of tourism, Veng Sereyvuth, said the Cambodian representative at the June 1 talks in Si Sa Ket exceeded his mandate.
He also signed records of the meeting without the Ministry of Tourism's consent.
So Mara, an influential director-general overseeing promotion, discussed "joint management" and "profit sharing" in relation to the hill-top sandstone temple straddling the Thai-Cambodian border.
"As the content of the meeting records exceeded his authority and since there was no prior approval from the ministry, I would like to hereby exercise my right and prerogative to annul such records," the letter said.
Mr Veng said he trusted his Thai counterpart would "understand the reason for our decision" and reassured his continued co-operation on tourism.
Mr Mara was sacked on July 16 by Prime Minister Hun Sen at the urging of 39 Cambodian members of parliament. King Norodom Sihanouk endorsed the move in a royal decree the next day.
Mr Veng said he had yet to receive a response from his Thai counterpart.
"I have worked with Thailand for so many years, building a good working relationship between the Ministry of Tourism and the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and there's so much more to be done," Mr Veng said, urging both sides to look at the bigger picture.
Thailand and Cambodia have been working together under a "one destination-two countries" promotion.
Preah Vihear temple, built between the mid-10th and early 12th centuries, was a sensitive historical issue. Located on the Cambodian side, it is accessible only from the Thai side.
Thailand occupied the temple in 1949 when Cambodia was a protectorate of France. King Sihanouk took the case to the World Court which voted in favour of Cambodia in 1962.
December 23, 2001 Army closes stairway to old temple
Environmental damage to Thai villages has forced the authorities to close the only entrance to Cambodia's Preah Vihear Temple.
The only way for people to reach the temple is by climbing stairs from the Thai side of the border in Kantharalak district as the ancient temple is on a steep cliff in Cambodia.
Suranaree task force commander Maj-Gen Wibulsak Neeparn said the entrance was closed on Monday after Cambodian authorities failed to curb ongoing environmental damage.
Trash and waste water from a market and shops run by Cambodians near the temple were reportedly flowing into a stream which runs through five nearby Thai villages.
A provincial panel would find ways to ease the environmental problems facing the Thai villages, Maj-Gen Wibulsak said.
Second Army chief Lt-Gen Jirasak Prommopakorn and Maj-Gen Wibulsak will inspect the area tomorrow to consider reopening the stairs on condition Cambodia took action on the environmental problems.
Maj-Gen Wibulsak said Mor E Daeng cliff and the ancient Don Traun temple, which were in Thai territory, remained open.
December 24, 2001 Temple still blocked as settlers stay
Passage to the historic Preah Vihear temple opposite Si Sa Ket remained closed as Cambodian authorities failed to relocate settlements reportedly responsible for polluting a river feeding Thai residents.
A military source said pollution was among the reasons cited for the temporary closure. Thai authorities ordered the passage shut also because of lack of security for tourists.
Although the hilly historical ruin is in Cambodia, its entrance is in Thailand.
A recent relocation of Cambodian villagers near the hill had prompted environmental concerns.
The villagers were found to lack proper sanitation systems and dumped waste water into the downstream river used for consumption by Thai border residents.
Thai border authorities blocked entry to Preah Vihear in protest and demanded the villagers leave. Lt-Gen Jirasak Prommopakorn, Region 2 Army commander, said the settlement comprised communities near the border.
January 14, 2002 Health concern leads to closure of temple
Pollution of Takhob stream, in Thailand, with rubbish from visitors to Preah Vihear temple in Cambodia is the source of the latest dispute between Bangkok and Phnom Penh, and has resulted in the indefinite closure of access to the ancient site.
Takhob is a small stream on the Phanom Dongrak mountain range. France cited the watershed of the stream as the border between Thailand and Cambodia when it was the colonial power there. It also claimed the hilltop temple, which dates back to about the 11th century, over Thai protests.
In 1962 the World Court ruled in favour of France although the entrance is on Thai soil, in Si Sa Ket province.
Thai authorities closed the border at the entrance to Preah Vihear on Dec 17, on grounds of public health concerns.
They said Cambodians operating a market at the foot of the temple were polluting Takhob stream, which runs through several Thai villages. ``We have asked Cambodia several times to solve the problem, but to no avail. Therefore, we will close the entrance to the sanctuary until the problem is solved,'' Second Army chief Lt-Col Jirasak Prommopakorn said on Jan 9.
Access to Preah Vihear has been closed off several times.
After the World Court's ruling in 1962, the place was opened to tourists in 1970, but its condition was so poor Thai and Cambodian authorities agreed to jointly renovate it. The civil war in Cambodia prevented this.
In 1975 the temple was closed when the Khmer Rouge took over the area.
Heavy fighting around the temple between Khmer Rouge and Vietnamese troops sparked international concern about whether the historic monument would survive. The temple building finally collapsed under shelling when the Phnom Penh government occupied the vicinity in 1991. Preah Vihear was reopened to tourists on Jan 9, 1992, but the war forced its closure again in 1993. This time it was closed off from the world for almost five years.
The hill area was among the last strongholds of the Khmer Rouge before its final defeat at Anlong Weng. Preah Vihear reopened to visitors on Aug 1, 1998, under a joint agreement between Thai and the Cambodian military. Just over three years later the entrance is again shut, closed indefinitely by the Thai military because of pollution.
Apart from uncontrolled waste in the Takhob stream, the military also cited a demarcation dispute, tourists' safety, the disorganisation of Cambodian vendors and the smuggling of gold and drugs. Vithaya Virarat, chairman of the Si Sa Ket chamber of commerce, said the border closure had cost Si Sa Ket and adjacent northeastern provinces about 50 million baht in lost income from Thai and foreign tourists over the new year. ``The impact on the tourist industry in the Northeast is huge. There should be negotiations instead of closure,'' he said.
Boonme Buaton, chief of tambon Saothongchai administrative organisation, disagreed. He said Cambodian authorities at Preah Vihear always ignored requests from Thailand to solve the pollution problem.
There were six local Cambodian agencies involved: military, customs, tourism, immigration, police and Preah Vihear provincial authorities.
``The number of Cambodians building shelters at the foot of the Preah Vihear is soaring. Last year there were about 70 families or over 300 people but their shelters were disorganised and lacking in hygiene. ``Garbage is left everywhere around their shelters but what is stunning is that there are only a few toilets for all of them. Most excrete and discharge waste water into the stream,'' Mr Boonme said.
This pollution directly affects about 3,000 Thais living in six downstream villages including Ban Saothongchai, Ban Phumsarol, Ban Nuancharoen and Ban Nongmek. The people use the stream for cooking and washing, and draw their tap water from it.
``We have been worried about the cleanliness of the water. One day the stream from Preah Vihear to Satao waterfall, which is a kilometre from the border, turned rusty red and stank.Villagers suffered rashes and itches after swimming there. Then we realised the problem is critical and we can't sit still any more,'' Mr Boonme said.
The closure of the temple entrance has cost the local tambon organisation about 20,000 baht a month as its share from entry fees. The Forestry Department collected the fees: 20 baht for Thai visitors and 200 for foreigners.
``Of course this loss is a huge sum for a small organisation like ours, but it's nothing compared with the health of the people in our jurisdiction,'' Mr Boonme said. The closure to the entrance is certainly costing Cambodia heavily in lost income, he said.
January 16, 2002 Vendors in clean-up drive at Khmer ruins
Cambodian vendors have begun clearing Takhob stream of piles of garbage to persuade Thai authorities to reopen Preah Vihear temple.
The Second Army closed the border at the entrance to Preah Vihear on Dec 17, on grounds of public health concerns.
Cambodians operating a market at the foot of the temple were accused of polluting Takhob stream, which runs through several Thai villages.
Sandbags were placed in the stream to stop polluted water and piles of garbage were collected and burned.
Te Li, 28, a Cambodian vendor, said: ``My business has been badly hurt by the closure. We are improving things here so that the temple can be reopened soon.''
March 07, 2002 Landmines to be cleared
Landmine clearance operations are set to begin soon in a 250,000-square-metre area of Si Sa Ket province to boost tourism at Preah Vihear Temple, a World Heritage Site on the Cambodian border.
Thailand Mining Action Centre director Maj-Gen Kitti Suksomsatharn said it would take about five months to clear the area of thousands of anti-personnel mines at a cost of US$400,000, with financial assistance from donor countries.
A similar budget would be required to clear an adjacent plot of the same size.
Maj-Gen Kitti said donor countries would also be asked to subsidise a proposed 250-million-baht operation to clear mines from a four-square-kilometre piece of land in Ubon Ratchathani province, which has been earmarked for an international golf-course project known as the Emerald Triangle.
Representatives from donor countries including the United States, Britain, Switzerland, Germany, New Zealand, Canada, Australia and Norway would be invited to visit Preah Vihear next month, he said.
The TMAC also plans to designate a mine-free zone in the village of Subtalee in Soi Dao district, Chanthaburi province, similar to Nong Ya Kew village in Sa Kaew province.
November 3, 2002 Chavalit backs new Preah Vihear gateway
Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh has thrown his weight behind a proposal to reopen and upgrade Sa-ngam border pass in a bid to establish a more convenient gateway to the historic Preah Vihear temple in Cambodia.
The province's most revered monk, Phra Rajwanwethee, said Gen Chavalit had given his backing during a recent trip to Ubon Ratchathani, and had ordered Second Army chief Lt-Gen Theppathat Prommopakorn to proceed accordingly.
Provincial official Hattachai Pengjaem said a petition of 50,000 signatures would be handed to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra after a civic meeting tomorrow at Phu Sing district hall.
Many residents supported reopening of the border pass to boost tourism and the local economy, he said.
Mr Hattachai said a Japanese firm was preparing to begin construction of a cable-car service between the temple and the Cambodian district of Chomprasan, opposite the pass.
The Sa-ngam pass would prove more convenient than the current gateway, Pha Mor E-daeng checkpoint in Kantharalak district, as it was located only 142km from the temple.
November 13, 2002 Push to open temple, border pass together
Local authorities and businessmen want Sa-ngarm border pass in Si Sa Ket and Cambodia's Phreah Vihear historic temple to reopen simultaneously.
The reopening and upgrading of the border pass in Kantharalak district would provide a more convenient gateway to Phreah Vihear, known in Thai as Khao Phra Viharn, they say.
The historic temple is expected to reopen to tourists entering from Si Sa Ket province early next month following completion of landmine clearing.
Kalayanee Thammajaree, head of the Si Sa Ket tourism association, said the temple's closure had badly affected the border economy and tourism.
Provincial authorities and businessmen were pushing for the reopening of the temple and Sa-ngarm border pass. This would draw more tourists.
A Japanese firm was preparing to begin construction of a cable car service between the temple and the Cambodian district of Chomprasan, opposite the pass, she said.
Sa-ngam pass would prove more convenient than the current gateway, Pha Mor E-daeng checkpoint in Kantharalak district, as it was only 142km from the temple.
MP Chaturong Pengnoraphat, an adviser to the industry minister, said reopening of Phreah Vihear was in line with the government's policy to promote tourism in neighbouring countries.
Sources said the governors of Si Sa Ket and Phreah Vihear and a representative from the Second Army would soon meet to discuss the reopening of the border pass.
Landmine clearance began in the area last February.
The clearance operation at Phreah Vihear is being done by Cambodian troops and the Halo Trust, an England-based non-governmental organisation specialised in removing the debris of war.
The reopening of the temple was earlier agreed on at a meeting between Phreah Vihear province governor Rong Suwan and Si Sa Ket governor Sawat Srisuwandee, Thai officials and the private sector.
Cheay Samnang, head of a mine clearance team from the Halo Trust, said Phreah Vihear Temple would be free of bombs soon.
A total of 894 mines had been found and destroyed in the past 10 months _ an average of 15 mines a day.
December 09, 2002 Ruins still closed to all visitors
About 3,000 runners in a mini-marathorn commemorating the King's birthday were barred from entering Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple complex yesterday.
The Si Sa Ket governor had expected the temple ruins to reopen to visitors. But as he was about to lead the runners and waiting tourists up to Preah Vihear (Khao Phra Viharn), they were denied access by the Cambodian authorities who cited safety reasons, but did not elaborate.
Governor Sawasdi Srisuwan said the ban may have stemmed from an unsettled dispute over interests generated from trading and businesses asssociated with Preah Vihear.
Mine clearance teams have been working in the area around Preah Vihear since last February.
December 13, 2002 Temple spared
The Cambodian military has cancelled plans to build a radio and television transmitter at Preah Vihear temple, on the Thai border, following objections by Unesco.
A Second Army source said Unesco had threatened to stop giving help to Cambodia. The United Nations body said work at the site could damage the ruins, which could soon be nominated as a World Heritage site.
Jan 17, 2003 New border posts planned, hours extended to boost trade
New border passes will be opened with Cambodia and existing passes will stay open longer to spur trade and tourism, Deputy Prime Minister Chaturon Chaisaeng said.
At present there are three permanent checkpoints and 10 temporary passes.
New temporary passes would be opened at Preah Vihear in Si Sa Ket, Bang Ma Muang and Ban Nong Ree in Trat, and Ban Sai Taku in Buri Ram.
A permanent checkpoint would be set up in Ban Laem in Chanthaburi's Pong Nam Ron district.
Mr Chaturon said the new passes could be open by March if negotiations went smoothly.
Opening hours would be extended for passes in Sa Kaew's Aranyaprathet district, Trat's Khlong Yai district, and in Surin's Chong Jom.
It was also proposed that Cambodians crossing the border be allowed to travel into the district town centre rather than stopping at the border area to shop.
Visas could be granted on arrival at border passes.
Mr Chaturon said projects to improve roads and the power network were being considered. Trade exhibitions would be held and cultural centres set up.
The projects would have to go to the National Economic and Social Development Board and the Budget Bureau. The government was also keen on encouraging Cambodian teenagers to study in Thai schools.
February 18, 2003 Border talks
The Thai and Cambodian border demarcation committee will survey the border area at Preah Vihear temple on Thursday, to try to define the border line following complaints of encroachment by Khmer vendors.
Hattachai Pengjaem, chairman of the provincial border affairs coordination committee, said trading stalls built in Thai territory by Cambodian vendors had become a new problem stalling talks to reopen the ancient Khmer temple to tourists.
The local Cambodian authority wants the temple opened soon but this has been delayed by the Cambodians' failure to build a waste treatment facility at the ruins. The hilltop temple can be accessed only through Thai territory. Thailand closed the entrance to the Khmer temple in 2001 because untreated waste was being discharged from the temple into Thailand.
February 20, 2003 Clear borders would help end temple row
Reports from Si Sa Ket say the border demarcation committee is due to survey the area near Preah Vihear temple today. For Thais and Cambodians depending on this tourist attraction for their livelihood, and for tourists without the time or the means to penetrate deeper into Cambodia for an appreciation of ancient Khmer art and culture, the work schedule comes none too soon.
Thailand provides the only access to the temple built between the 10th and 12th centuries on an escarpment overlooking the two countries. But Thai authorities closed the area in 2001 because untreated waste was being discharged into the country, and Cambodia's failure to install waste treatment facilities has stalled talks to re-open the site to tourists. The alleged encroachment of Cambodian vendors on territory deemed to be Thai has posed an additional problem.
Thailand occupied Preah Vihear in 1949, when Cambodia was still a French protectorate. Thailand and Cambodia quarrelled bitterly over the ownership of the temple from 1953, when Cambodian won independence from France, to 1962, when the International Court of Justice ruled in Cambodia's favour. The temple was off-limits to visitors throughout the war in Cambodia from the late 1960s till the surrender of the last Khmer Rouge in 1998.
The site re-opened to tourists for about three years before Thai and Cambodian officials in June 2001 discussed a joint management and profit-sharing scheme. But these discussions did not go down well in Cambodia, which understandably cherishes its national heritage and depends heavily on tourism for foreign exchange. Within seven weeks, then Cambodian Tourism Minister Veng Sereyvuth wrote to his Thai counterpart, Somsak Thepsuthin, to annul the records of the talks which took place in Si Sa Ket. So Mora, the Cambodian director-general concerned, was dismissed on grounds of exceeding his mandate by signing the records without authorisation.
Thailand clearly does not want a repeat of any such incident now, with bilateral relations badly torn by the burning of the Thai embassy and business premises in Phnom Penh on Jan 29. Hence the need for the government to give careful consideration to any proposal for the re-opening of the access route to Preah Vihear temple. Regional military authorities in Cambodia probably are keen, as reports suggest, to have tourists come back to the site. They have offered to bring the governor of Preah Vihear province for talks with the governor of Si Sa Ket. But the Interior Ministry in Bangkok wisely has delayed any such discussions for the time being.
The problem of alleged encroachment by Khmer vendors certainly is more difficult to address than that of ensuring waste treatment facilities on the Cambodian side of the border. It underlines the need for the two sides to clear up grey areas that exist at far too many spots along the common border. Hence the demarcation committee must go about its business very carefully. Proper demarcation will prevent the recurrence of problems which inevitably strain relations at the local level, weakening the foundation for further communications. Improper demarcation will have the reverse effect, harming both sides.
Statements made by Cambodian leaders to our government and reports of internal differences among Cambodians since the riots in Phnom Penh have shown that national pride runs deep in that country. The lesson for Thais who have to work, trade or live with Cambodians is to plug any loophole allowing problems to rear their ugly head. The lesson for the government is to ensure proper border demarcation, and peace and quiet on all fronts.
February 22, 2003 Cambodians `encroach' on Thai soil
The army's border problem-solving panel is looking into an allegation that Cambodian construction workers encroached on Thai territory in Si Sa Ket.
Committee members led by adviser Maj-Gen Wathit Sompatyuth yesterday inspected the Pha Mor E Daeng area in Si Sa Ket's Kantharalak district near Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple, which was allegedly encroached on by workers building another temple.
The inspection team was briefed by deputy governor Warong Siripanich, provincial administration organisation president Wichit Traisoranakul, Kantharalak district chief Phayom Tharicharn and 23rd Ranger Regiment commander Col At Singhatthita.
From Pha Mor E Daeng cliff, the team could see a road under construction in Cambodia about 1km away from the border towards Ta Tao pass.
The road contractor, a Japanese firm, had asked Phnom Penh to negotiate with Bangkok to get Ta Tao pass open, so tourists could take cable cars from there to Preah Vihear temple.