Thai politics Thailand

Clash on Thailand-Cambodia border

Bangkok Post:

Fighting on Cambodian border

Two or three Thai soldiers were wounded in an exchange of fire with Cambodian troops on Friday afternoon on the Thai-Cambodian border, and artillery rounds landed on Thai soil well inside the frontier, an informed military source said.

The clash started about 3.20pm near the disputed 4.6 square kilometre area around the Preah Vihear temple.

Fighting was continuing, the source said. Heavy weapon rounds had landed on the Thai side of the border,

Lt-Gen Tawatchai Samutsakhon, 2nd Army commander, said it was Cambodian troops who started the fire.

Many artillery shells landed at Huay Thip village in tambon Rung of Si Sa Ket’s Kanthararak district, north of the Preah Vihear temple and about 1km from Phu Makhua mountain, which is part of the disputed area.

Two or three Thai soldiers were reported wounded. Casualties on the Cambodian side were not known.

Previous posts with more info:

Fighting on Thai-Cambodia border (April 2009)
Conflict on Thailand-Cambodia Border (Oct. 2008)


WSJ on mobile banking in Cambodia

From today’s WSJ: Mobile Service Targets Cambodia’s ‘Unbanked’:

How do you roll out a banking service in a place where most people don’t have bank accounts?

Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. tackled that question in developing WING, a banking and payment system it launched in Cambodia early last year.


Thaksin, Cambodia, and Thailand — update

Reuters has a summary of the latest developments in the Thaksin-Cambodia-Thailand saga:

Thai Crisis Deepens as Thaksin Finds Cambodian Base

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) – Emboldened by a rousing welcome in Cambodia, fugitive former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra is rallying supporters from just over the border, upping the ante in Thailand’s political crisis.

After accusing Thailand’s rulers of “false patriotism” in a speech in Phnom Penh on Thursday, Thaksin huddled with more than 20 supporters and leaders of his red-shirted, anti-government protest movement who traveled from Thailand.

That number will swell on Friday when about 100 supporters plan to gather in the Cambodian town of Siem Reap, about 150 km (90 miles) from the Thai border, according to Puea Thai, an incarnation of Thaksin’s disbanded Thai Rak Thai party.

The prospect of the billionaire — who the Thai government sees as a criminal — running a political campaign from across the border rattled investors, sending Thai stock prices tumbling nearly 3 percent on concern of more instability in Southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy.

Royalists aligned with the military, who wear the king’s traditional color of yellow, plan a demonstration of their own on Sunday in Bangkok to denounce Thaksin and Cambodia, threatening to deepen the political and diplomatic impasse.

(Emphasis mine.)

Worth reading the whole thing.

Previous Thaksin-Cambodia-Thailand posts are here and here and here.


Thailand, Cambodia, and Thaksin

First this:

AFP: “Cambodia makes Thailand’s Thaksin adviser: government

Cambodia said Wednesday it had appointed fugitive former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra economic adviser to premier Hun Sen in a move that adds to tensions between the countries.

The appointment was announced on state television almost two weeks after Hun Sen first riled Thailand by offering safe haven to Thaksin, who was ousted in a coup in 2006 and is living abroad to avoid a jail term for corruption.

And then this:

New York Times: “Thailand Recalls Its Ambassador to Cambodia

The Thai government announced Thursday that it was recalling its ambassador to Cambodia to protest Cambodia’s appointment of Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted as Thailand’s prime minister, to a high-profile position. The moves put new strains on already tense relations between the countries.

Mr. Thaksin was removed in a coup in September 2006 and now helps lead the Thai opposition movement from abroad.

The Thai Foreign Ministry said the appointment of Mr. Thaksin as economic adviser to Cambodia’s prime minister represented a “failure to respect Thailand’s judicial system.”

“The Royal Thai Government cannot stand idly by and has to take into consideration the sentiment of its people,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The Thai government appears particularly dismayed at the idea that Mr. Thaksin, who now spends much of his time in Dubai, might be able to galvanize his supporters from just across the border. Hun Sen, the Cambodian prime minister, has offered Mr. Thaksin a residence in Cambodia.

And now this:

Reuters: “Thailand, Cambodia recall envoys over Thaksin spat

Thailand and Cambodia recalled their ambassadors from each others’ countries on Thursday, deepening a diplomatic row after Cambodia made fugitive former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra an economic adviser.

The tit-for-tat spat threatens to worsen a political crisis in Thailand by giving Thaksin and his red-shirted anti-government supporters an ally just across the border, causing a diplomatic embarrassment for Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

It also suggests deepening enmity between leaders of the two countries after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen soured the start of an Asian summit hosted by Abhisit last month by turning up and offering Thaksin the job of adviser.

(Emphasis mine.)

Watch this space…

UPDATE (Fri., 3:30 p.m. local time): A development from AFP: “Thailand threatens to seal Cambodian border.”

Thailand threatened Friday to seal the border with Cambodia in a spiralling diplomatic row over Phnom Penh’s naming of fugitive former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra as an adviser.

The warning came a day after the two countries recalled their respective ambassadors due to the dispute over the appointment of Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 coup and lives abroad to avoid a jail term for corruption.


Conflict on Thailand-Cambodia Border

AFP: “Fighting erupts along Thai-Cambodia border: officials”

Fighting erupted on the Thai-Cambodia border, military officials from both sides said on Wednesday, as a row over a disputed patch of land near the ancient Preah Vihear temple boiled over.

Brigadier Bun Thean said the two sides had exchanged gunfire, after reports that 500 Thai soldiers were massing on their side of the border.

“Cambodian and Thai troops are opening fire at each other now,” he told AFP from the scene, accusing Thailand of firing the first shot.

“Thai troops entered our territory … It is heavy gunfire.”

A senior Thai military official who did not wish to be named confirmed that fighting had broken out near the border, but insisted that it was isolated.

“It’s small-scale fighting and the Thai authorities are trying to contain the incident,” he told AFP in Bangkok. “Fighting erupts on Thai-Cambodia border”

Thai and Cambodian soldiers clashed Wednesday in a disputed border region where the two countries lay claim to an ancient temple, the Thai military told CNN.

Thai soldiers set-up artillery guns on the Thai-Cambodian border on October 15.

No casualties were reported in the fighting near the Preah Vihear temple, the military said.

Thai military officials are now trying to arrange emergency talks with their Cambodian counterparts, the military said.

Both countries posted troops in the area after the United Nations in July approved Cambodia’s application to have the 11th-century temple listed as a World Heritage Site.

The Nation: “Sound of gunshots heard along Thai-Cambodia border”

Sound of several gunshots were heard near the disputed area near the ancient Preah Vihear temple on the ThaiCambodia border in Si Sa Ket province at about 2.45pm.

The area is in the heart of border tension between Thailand and Cambodia which was flared up after Cambodia’s premier Hun Sen threatened to open war if Thai troops were not withdrawn from the area.

It is still unclear who fired first shot but Thai officials said that the shots were fired from the Khmer side.

Both Thai and Cambodian troops were deployed along the border in Si Sa Ket following Hun Sen’s threats. The Thai army vowed to retaliate if attacked.

Meanwhile Army Commander in Chief Gen Anupong Paochinda has instructed Thai troops along the border with Cambodia to be on high alert and to retaliate if attacked.

Second Army Region Commander Lt Gen Wibunsak Neeparn said Anupong telephoned to him and ordered Thai troops along the border to be ready if attacked.

Here’s more info on the disputed temple:

Preah Vihear temple on Wikipedia

Reuters: “FACTBOX: Preah Vihear, a source of Thai-Cambodian tension”

CSM: “Why Thai-Cambodian temple dispute lingers”

Update (via A): for some good analysis of the situation, look no further than this Reuters story: “Thailand and Cambodia face off again — for what?” It includes answers to questions like:

1) If war broke out, would Thailand easily defeat Cambodia?
2) Apart from national pride, is there any reason to go to war over this scrubland?
3) Are domestic politics to blame for the rise in tension?
4) Are border disputes common in this bit of Southeast Asia?
5) Surely the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) will step in and solve the problem?