Sunday, 30 January 2011

The US agents tracking down sex tourists in Cambodia

 via CAAI

By David Henshaw

Producer, The Paedophile Hunters

US agents rely on locals to provide information about suspect Americans

As part of an initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas, special US agents operating in South East Asia have brought more than 80 alleged child sex tourists back to America to face justice.

Sihanoukville looks like paradise, or at least a decent, low-rent version. Golden beaches, swaying palm trees, cheap alcohol and shimmering sea.

Retired American pharmacist Ronald Adams had come here for the good life - setting up a beachside cafe. But one morning last February Adams' personal vision of paradise was shattered, when officers from the Cambodian National Police raided his apartment.

They found a collection of sex aids, child pornography on DVDs and a variety of illegal drugs. Adams was accused of drugging and raping a 12-year-old girl.

Under the radar

For Westerners arrested on child sex charges in South East Asia, things do not always turn out too badly. Gary Glitter got a two-and-a-half-year sentence in Vietnam for obscene acts with girls aged 10 and 12.

These are poor countries, where $100 can buy your freedom. But Ronald Adams had more to reckon with than the local police. An agent from America's Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) was part of the group carrying out the raid.

Continue reading the main story
Start Quote
If Americans are coming here to do this against the Cambodians... it's our responsibility to bring that person to justice”
End Quote
Special agent Chris Materelli
If a US citizen is caught abusing children abroad, American agents are now on hand with the specific aim of getting the suspect on a plane to stand trial back in the US.

ICE is part of the Department of Homeland Security, based in Washington, with a severe, Brooks Brothers-suited lawyer, John Morton, as its director.

"Don't think that simply by buying a plane ticket to leave the United States and going to a country with less robust investigative and prosecutorial capacities that you are going to be able to get away with it again," Morton said.

"Perfect example - the three gentlemen we brought back from Cambodia."

The "three gentlemen" were given the moniker Twisted Travellers by ICE in a heavily publicised and deliberately humiliating extradition from Cambodia 18 months ago.

All three had previous convictions for abusing small children in the US. The oldest, 75-year-old former marine Jack Sporich, now faces a sentence of 15 years for sexually abusing a number of young boys.

Cambodia's jails are full of foreign paedophiles, but for most of them a short sentence is all they have to worry about. But even that can be avoided if you have the money to pay off the police and the judge.

Agent Vansak Suos was once a conscripted boy soldier in Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge army

America was the first country to be positively pro-active about arresting and returning their child abusers to face justice. It has been joined in the past 12 months by Australia and Canada.

For US special agent Chris Materelli, it is as much about moral responsibility as law enforcement.

"If Americans are coming here to do this against the Cambodians, it's our job to try to help the Cambodians clean it up," he says. "They're our citizens, it's our responsibility to bring that person to justice."

In the seven years since the Protect Act was passed, America has brought back 85 child sex tourists to face justice in the US.

But none of this would work without a ground-breaking change in the way US agents work - not just with local police, but NGOs run by ordinary citizens.

In the tourist hot-spots of Cambodia, Action Pour Les Enfants (Action For Children, APLE) acts as the eyes and the ears of ICE in keeping surveillance on suspect Americans.

Continue reading the main story
Start Quote
That's a common defence - that these kids are older than what they appear to be because they're Asian”
End Quote
Gary Philips

ICE agent
Young men on motorbikes patrol the streets with video cameras supplied by the Americans. It was an APLE undercover team that came across Ronald Adams openly asking for sex with underage girls, "the younger the better".

This kind of co-operation with ordinary locals represents a massive change of attitude, almost unthinkable 30 years ago in the wake of America's bombing of Cambodia.

Cambodians are welcome within the ranks of ICE agents. Vansak Suos, once a conscripted boy soldier in Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge army, now occupies an office in the US Embassy in Phnom Penh, with a photo of himself and Bill Clinton on his desk.

Vansak's story is bleak, his brother, two sisters, and grandfather were all killed in the time of Pol Pot. He, himself, barely survived, but having done so was determined to use his life to protect other children.

Big catch

Forty-five-year-old millionaire from Florida, Kent Frank, is probably ICE's biggest catch so far. He is a serial global child sex tourist, who was caught abusing four underage girls in his hotel room in Phnom Penh.

Vansak describes how Frank tried to bribe the local police chief.

"Kent Frank just stood up and put his hand in his pocket. Then, shaking the hand with the boss. And the boss just found $100 in his hand," he says.

Frank admitted to having sex and taking photos of the girls he had been with, saying that he believed they were all over 18.

"That's a common defence, that these kids are older than what they appear to be because they're Asian," says ICE agent Gary Philips. "And if I had a nickel for every time I've heard that, I'd probably be a millionaire."

Frank tried to delete the incriminating photos on his digital camera, but at ICE's state-of-the-art cyber forensics lab back in the US, 1,600 deleted pictures were recovered. Frank is currently serving a 40-year sentence in a federal jail.

But it doesn't always end that way. After seven months on remand in a Cambodian prison, Ronald Adams was released without charge. The court decided that because his alleged victim says she was drugged, her evidence could not be relied on. He has since disappeared.

Vansak shrugs and moves on. He is, he says, proud of what he has done. Every sex offender convicted means that many more children are now safe.

Military confrontation between Cambodia, Thai near temple continues

via CAAI

January 30, 2011

The military confrontation between Cambodian and Thai troops over the border area near Preah Vihear temple continues on Saturday and troops on both sides are still on high alert, said a close military source standby at the area.

"We're still on high alert to defend our territorial integrity, " a senior officer, who asked not to be named, said on Saturday.

Thai side has stepped up their troops on their border side; they attempted to bring their Thai flag to fly at Cambodia's Keo Sikha Kiri Svarak pagoda near Preah Vihear temple, he said.

"We have warned Thai troops in advance already, if they dare to enter Cambodian territory, Cambodia will use self-defense rights to protect our sovereignty and territorial integrity," he said.

Cambodian Ministry of Defense on Friday has dispatched dozens of tanks and fighting vehicles as well as missiles and ammunition to Preah Vihear temple area. He said that those armaments have arrived at Preah Vihear temple on Saturday morning.

The re-tension between Cambodia and Thailand over the border happened on Thursday after Thailand demanded Cambodia to remove a national flag over Wat Keo Sikha Kiri Svarak pagoda near Preah Vihear temple, claiming that the pagoda is on the disputed area, but Cambodian side rejected it.

Meanwhile, Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation issued a declaration on Friday to firmly reject the demand of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to remove the Cambodia's flag at the pagoda near Preah Vihear temple.

The ministry said that according to the map produced by the Franco-Siamese commissions between the period of 1905 and 1908, the Keo Sikha Kiri Svara pagoda, built by the people of Cambodia in 1998, is clearly situated in the Cambodian territory. Therefore, the flag of Cambodia is legitimately flying over this pagoda.

The ministry called "the statement made by Thai Prime Minister in parallel with Thailand's military exercise at the border with Cambodia is clearly provocative and constitutes a casus belli for future acts of aggression against Cambodia."

Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple was enlisted as World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008. Just a week after the enlistment, Cambodia and Thailand have had border conflict due to Thai claim of the ownership of 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) of scrub next to the temple, 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.

Source: Xinhua

'Yellows' return to Thai street politics

The nationalistic Thai Yellow Shirt movement have helped to claim the scalps of three governments in under five years

The largely working class, rural 'Red Shirts' political movement remains a key force in Thailand

Thai street protest groups, with an eye on elections looming before February 2012, are set to become more prominent

via CAAI

By Amelie Bottollier-Depois (AFP)
BANGKOK — With neatly spaced tents, massages, free vegetarian meals and a heavy dose of nationalist rhetoric, Thailand's powerful royalist "Yellow Shirts" are back on the streets of Bangkok.

More than a thousand people have camped out around the government's compound since Tuesday, demonstrating against its handling of a border dispute with neighbouring Cambodia.

Despite relatively small numbers compared to their arch enemies -- the anti-government "Red Shirts" whose most recent rally attracted nearly 30,000 people -- the group has managed to choke off streets around Government House.

Yellow Shirts are a force to be reckoned with in Thailand's colour-coded politics and have helped to claim the scalps of three governments in under five years, including that of fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

The group, officially the People's Alliance for Democracy, want the government to take a tougher stance on the thorny issue of the Thai-Cambodian border.

Tensions centre on 4.6 square kilometres (1.8 square miles) of land around the ancient Preah Vihear temple, which the World Court ruled in 1962 belonged to Cambodia, although the main entrance lies in Thailand.

"I came here to help my country. We have to fight to protect our land," said protester Chutikarn Rattanasupa, 42, a grocery shop owner from Nakhon si Thammarat in southern Thailand.

The Yellows, who boast support from Bangkok elites and elements in the military, used to be linked to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, but the relationship has soured.

Abhisit came to power in 2008 after Yellow rallies which helped to eject two pro-Thaksin governments. The protests culminated in the seizure of two Bangkok airports, stranding over 300,000 travellers.

Two years earlier the Yellows had flexed their muscles with demonstrations that destabilised Thaksin's own government, paving the way for the military coup that unseated him.

Paul Chambers of Heidelberg University in Germany said Abhisit may be able to keep his "Teflon prime minister" reputation if he does not bend to the Yellows' demands.

But at the same time, "if he does not give in, I think the protests will continue building," he added.

The border issue heated up when seven Thais were arrested in Cambodia in December for illegal entry and trespassing in the disputed zone, including a Yellow activist who remains in jail facing spying charges.

But Pavin Chachavalpongpun, of the Institute of Southeast Asia Studies in Singapore, said the territory dispute with Phnom Penh is just an excuse for the Yellows to "return into the limelight".

"They just want to regain political credibility and the only thing they can do is to attack the current government, whatever the government is," he said.

Thailand's street groups, with an eye on elections looming before February 2012, are likely to become ever more prominent, said Chambers.

And the stakes are high. Last year's April and May protest by the mainly rural and working class Red Shirts left more than 90 people dead in clashes between troops and civilians.

"The shirts -- of all colours -- are getting out and about to make themselves heard loud and clear," he said.

At the Yellows' rally site, there is almost a festival atmosphere.

Facilities provided for the comfort of protesters include toilets, showers and recycling bins, while stalls sell everything from watches to amulets and a caricaturist is on hand to sketch souvenirs.

A sign proclaiming "Free vegetarian food", next to an assortment of dishes and a mountain of cabbage, signals the work of a group of blue-clad radical Buddhists who are busily providing nourishment at the gathering.

But coils of barbed wire between the camp and the locked gates of the government compound are a reminder that the Yellows have been here before.

"I stayed 193 days in 2008 and this time I'm prepared to stay too," said Nittaya Kurakan, 40, the owner of an accountancy firm.

Thailand to protest to Cambodia over disputed temple

via CAAI

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 30 -- Thailand will issue a protest note to Cambodia after the Cambodian government issued a statement condemning Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva for his remarks asking Cambodia to remove its national flag flying at the entrance of a disputed ancient temple which sits on the border, a senior Thai Foreign Affairs Ministry official said Sunday.

Chavanont Intarakomalsut, secretary to the foreign affairs minister, told journalists that the statement issued by the  Cambodian foreign ministry charging that Thailand had violated Cambodian integrity and sovereignty would not help provide a conciliatory atmosphere for talks between the two neighbouring countries aimed at resolving the border problem under the Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission (JBC) framework.

Phnom Penh issued the statement after Mr Abhisit asked the Cambodian government to remove its national flag erected above the entrance of Kaew Sikha Khiri Sawara temple near historic Preah Vihear.

Mr Chavanont, who is accompanying Mr Abhisit who is attending the 41st World Economic Forum now in progress in Davos, said the statement should not have been issued at all as it would “create more conflicts and confusion”.

Thailand follows the watershed line as the border marking the two countries and if the Cambodian government believes its map shows the genuine watershed line then the two countries should sit down and talk, Mr Chavanont said.

Since the border is still unclear and both countries still claim ownership, neither Thailand nor Cambodia should act as if it owns the disputed land, he said.

Mr Chavanont said his ministry would definitely issue a protest note to Cambodia in order to enable Phnom Penh to better understand the whole scenario.

The yet to be issued protest is not expected to affect the two Thais now detained in Phnom Penh on charges of trespassing and espionage. The duo are scheduled to appear for trial this Tuesday. (MCOT online news)

OV in Cambodia celebrate Lunar New Year

via CAAI


(VOV) - The Vietnamese Embassy in Cambodia held a meeting to celebrate the Lunar New Year (Tet) holidays on Jan. 28 in the capital city of Phnom Penh.

Attending the meeting were Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Men Sam An, heads of ministries and state agencies and overseas Vietnamese.

Speaking at the meeting, the Cambodian Deputy PM congratulated Vietnam on its successful 11th National Congress Party. She hailed the economic achievements the country had recorded during the last year as well as its investment activities in Cambodia, which, she said, have helped generate jobs for local residents.

On the occasion, she also sent her New Year greetings to Vietnam leaders and people and expressed her wish for the two countries’ traditional friendship to be strengthened.

During the meeting, Ambassador Ngo Anh Dung briefed the attendants on Vietnam ’s socio-economic achievements as well as the fine outcomes of Vietnam-Cambodia friendship in the past year. He spoke highly of overseas Vietnamese’s endeavour to integrate into the Cambodian society and wished them a happy and prosperous new year.

Attendants had chance to enjoy various Vietnamese traditional foods and diversified music performances.


Cambodia 'tears up freedom to muffle dissent'

Cambodia remains haunted by its past, after decades of civil war and the brutal 1975-1979 Khmer Rouge regime

via CAAI

Posted: 30 January 2011
By Michelle Fitzpatrick (AFP)

PHNOM PENH — The Cambodian government is choking freedoms and locking up detractors in an increasingly bold effort to silence critics as elections loom, observers say.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, 59, who has vowed to remain in power until he is 90, recently said on national radio that his aim was "not just to weaken the opposition, but to make it die".

The comment was the latest in a string of outbursts against critics, prompting fears that freedoms are under threat as the government looks ahead to local polls next year and a general election in 2013.

"The space for dissent has shrunk to the point where people are gasping for air," said Mathieu Pellerin of local rights group Licadho.

"Vast areas of political debate have been effectively declared off-limits. The most minor venture into these fenced-off topics can bring the authorities' wrath, whether you are a prominent politician or an anonymous village farmer."

Outspoken opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who lives in self-imposed exile, has been sentenced in absentia to 12 years in jail over two cases related to border issues with Vietnam.

If the sentences are upheld, he will be unable to challenge Hun Sen's ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) in the 2013 poll.

"The CPP is preparing for the next election, that much is clear," said a Cambodia-based Western expert, on the condition of anonymity.

"To do that, they want to reduce as much as possible any public criticism that would cost them ballots."

Dismissing concerns about a crackdown on freedoms, government spokesman Tith Sothea said the government was "working to protect human rights and carry out reforms in order to ensure political stability".

Mark Turner, a Cambodia expert at the University of Canberra, said the legacy of the country's recent bloody history has allowed the ruling party to tighten its grip on power.

"One of the leading themes of post-Khmer Rouge Cambodia has been the search for stability," he said. "If incomes are rising, education improving, health facilities more accessible, then people may accept a certain curtailment of freedoms."

Cambodia remains haunted by its past, after decades of civil war and the brutal 1975-1979 Khmer Rouge regime that left up to two million dead in its bid to forge a communist utopia.

Cambodian independent analyst Chea Vannath said it was important to recognise how far the nation had come considering its "terrible past".

Hun Sen, who has ruled since 1985, has been credited with the country's long spell of peace and stability, while also improving infrastructure and opening up the country's markets.

But he also has a history of riding roughshod over his rivals, and analysts say the CPP -- bolstered by a 2008 election landslide -- has exerted executive power without limits.

It is now a crime to criticise judges or public officials under a new penal code that activists say could be used as a government tool to muzzle freedom of expression.

"Impunity is deepening for government power-holders and their cronies to abuse rights," said Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson.

"At the core of all of this is the continued lack of independence of the Cambodian judiciary, which suffers endemic political interference from the CPP and other governing elites."

One of the first to be arrested under the new code was a World Food Programme worker, sentenced to six months in prison for incitement after he printed an article from an anti-government website.

The government has mounted what Robertson terms a "campaign of intimidation" against the UN in Cambodia, threatening to expel the organisation's resident coordinator Douglas Broderick after he called for more transparency in the debate about a new anti-corruption law.

The government also used a high-profile visit by UN chief Ban Ki-moon to demand the removal of local human rights director Christophe Peschoux.

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said Peschoux had acted as "the spokesman for the opposition", after the Frenchman spoke out on issues such as land-grabbing and crackdowns on government critics.

Despite steady economic growth Cambodia remains one of the region's poorest nations, presenting foreign donors with an opportunity to defend those that have come under attack, activists said.

Outside aid contributed around one billion dollars, or about nine percent of Cambodia's economic output in 2010.

"Donors need to wake up and recognise the human rights situation in Cambodia is rapidly deteriorating," said Robertson

World’s longest red carpet to unroll at CamboFest, Cambodia Film Festival (March 1-9)

via CAAI

The world’s longest red carpet, measuring 26.5 kilometers, will unroll at the upcoming CamboFest Cambodia Film Festival (March 1-9,, linking the French colonial venue town of Kampot with the seaside coastal town of Kep.

PRLog (Press Release) – Jan 29, 2011 – The world’s longest red carpet, measuring 26.5 kilometers, will unroll at the upcoming CamboFest Cambodia Film Festival (March 1-9,,linking the French colonial venue town of Kampot with the seaside coastal town of Kep while shattering existing records for a red carpet event.

The lengthy carpet, donated by the Zhejiang Da Guanyuan carpet company of Zhejiang Province, China, is currently on its way to the Cambodian port of Sihanoukville, to then be transported by road in time for the festival.

“This long carpet is a symbol of regional friendship’ said Zhejiang Carpet Company owner Jiang Jiansheng at a recent Phnom Penh press conference. ‘It’s a grand scale and powerful enterprise which has possessed many high technical manpower who are specialized in the designs of all kind of hand-woven, weaving art and wall-to-wall carpets.’

CamboFest founder and co-organizer Jason Rosette welcomes the carpet, but has expressed concerns about the festival’s ability to handle the rug while housing and feeding the 35 person crew who will be involved in its installation.

‘The carpet is monumental, and we welcome any support for our grass roots, indie festival here in the developing world’ said Rosette. ‘And of course, at more than twenty six kilometers, it beats the world record hands-down.’

He added, ‘After the event, the rug can be cut into sections and donated to schools and homes and any other folks who can use it here in Cambodia’.

‘But what we really need is a decent large venue projector that our youth group can operate for this year’s event, running March first through the ninth’, Rosette conceded.

‘Funding has been extremely limited this year, with the US Embassy in Phnom Penh, the Arts Network Asia, UNESCO, the Jan Vrijman Fund, the Asia Foundation, and others turning us down for funding.

Rosette estimates that funders this year may still be nervous due to attacks on the CamboFest Film Festival at the 3rd edition in 2009 by Phnom Penh based foreign movie pirates. (*see   ...)

Such interference, though not the fault of the festival itself, may nonetheless leave donor and funding agencies reluctant to sustain any further perceived risk in the Cambodian environment, despite the value of the CamboFest mission.

Rosette added that this year the Deutsche Welle | DW-AKADEMIE has, however, invited CamboFest co-organizer Phun Sokunthearith to a film festival training workshop in Berlin, highlighting a proactive, courageous leadership role that development agencies might assume in atypical, and sometimes hazardous, developing world media environments.

Despite the lack of funding, hardware, venues, and skilled festival staff in Cambodia (with most of the country’s artists being killed off during the Khmer Rouge regime) other exciting developments –besides the red carpet – are unrolling at this year’s CamboFest Cambodian film event.

A Cambodian youth group, Youth Association for Human Resource Development (YAHRD) will be trained to operate many of the festival’s functions to ensure the event’s future sustainability, while CamboFest staff will again revive the once-majestic ‘Royal’ cinema house, which was destroyed during the civil war and subsequent Khmer Rouge regime, as a venue for this year’s festival event.

‘We hope that many guests and movie buffs will come to take a walk on the magnificent, world-record breaking red carpet supplied by our supporters at the Zhejiang Carpet Company’, said Rosette.

‘But, we sure could use additional financial support to feed our staff, to buy fuel for the generator, to pay for housing for any visiting filmmakers, and to upgrade our projector to a better large venue model’, he added.

And then, truly, the red carpet can be unrolled!

PM: Cambodian flag must be removed

via CAAI

Published: 30/01/2011

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said in his “Confidence in Thailand with PM Abhisit” weekly programme on NBT on Sunday morning that if a national flag of Cambodia is really placed at Wat Kaew Sikkha Khiri Savara, it must be removed.

“The temple is located on the disputed border area and if the claim by yellow-shirt people group is true, the government will coordinate with Cambodian authorities to remove the flag”, Mr Abhisit said in Davos, Switzerland.

The yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) on Friday showed photos showing that a Cambodia’s national flag was place on the entrance gate of the border temple.

On the demand by the PAD that the 2000 Memorandum of Understanding signed with Cambodia be revoked, the prime minister said that the MoU was made in order to prevent the possible use of military force in settling border dispute and that it is in line with international principle.

He insisted that the MoU will not lead to a loss in the country’s territory as claimed.

Mr Abhisit said the demand for pushing Cambodians out of disputed area by the yellow-shirts is risky. The move could lead to a war between the two countries, he added.

The prime minister pledged to do his best for the benefit of the country and was ready to meet PAD leaders to clear air over the Thai-Cambodian border dispute issues.

Lawyers for detained Thais need more time

 via CAAI


Published on January 30, 2011

Lawyers from the Thailand Patriots Network will ask a Cambodian court to postpone the reading of a verdict from this Tuesday in the case against two Thais charged with trespassing and espionage.

They said they had not collected sufficient information and proof to be presented to the court in order to defend Veera Somkwamkid and Ratri Pipattanapaiboon.

TPN legal adviser Wanwipa Charoonroj said the group's lawyers were unable to survey the border area where Cambodian soldiers arrested the two and five other Thais on December 29. Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban had not granted permission for a survey of the area despite Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva ordering state agencies to help facilitate the lawyers' travel to the disputed border area.

Suthep acted as caretaker prime minister while Abhisit was attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

TPN legal adviser ML Tossapol Kaewtima said the group was deeply disappointed with Suthep. Since they could not find evidence to help with the case, the network would request the Cambodian court give them more time to find evidence and postpone its verdict on the two, who are charged with trespassing and espionage. They will also request bail for the two.

Tossapol said the TPN also planned to step up pressure on the government to meet their demands over disputes with Phnom Penh. The group would follow up on complaints submitted at various agencies and step up their campaign against the government.

In Davos, the prime minister told The Associated Press that protesters demanding the government revoke its pact with Cambodia over a border dispute had a right to make their demands, but he would do what was best for the country.

"We feel that the way we approach the border problems, and the problems — as far as the relationship with Cambodia is concerned — is best for the country, which is that we try to resolve whatever issues come up in a peaceful manner."

He stressed the importance of dealing with the issue peacefully. "So that we preserve good relations — we are both part of Asean — and at the same time we make sure that we protect Thai interests," he said. "So all we can do is to explain to them that we feel that this is the best approach and I am confident that the majority of Thai people support" the government.

Human Rights Commissioner Parinya Sirisarakarn said he would attend the court hearing of Veera and Ratri and would ask Veera about conditions of his detention to ensure his basic rights.

Meanwhile, Suthep threatened legal action yesterday against the People's Alliance for Democracy if they continue their protest by blocking roads and causing inconvenience to the public.

Suthep said he would wait for two to three days and decide - if there were not many protesters but the PAD blocked several roads causing traffic congestion, the government would definitely file a suit against them. He said there were only a few hundreds protesters during the day and about 2,000 protesters at night but the PAD blocked not one but several routes.

He urged the protesters to get on one side of the road to make way for motorists. He said blocking Rajdamnoen Klang Road, which the royal family uses, was totally inappropriate.

Responding to demands for the government to remove a Cambodian flag on a Thai temple near the Thai-Cambodian border, Suthep said the government would solve the problem through diplomatic means. "We have to take it easy. When you have neighbours, you should not threaten them too much. I believe Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has probably been attacked by the media and his people over the PAD's threat,'' he said.

"I would like to send this message to PM Hun Sen that whatever the protesters said had nothing to do with the government. Both sides have to be patient and find solutions to the problems,'' he said.

Democrat Party MP for Bangkok Panich Vikitsreth said he negotiated with the PAD not to stop their protest but to explain the government's stand so that both sides understand each other better.

He said key leaders of the PAD's sub groups had a tendency to understand the government's point of view and there was only one group that had a different view of the government.

Responding to a threat by Chaiwat Sinsuwong, a leader of the Thailand Patriots Network, to team up with the red shirts to oust the government, Panich said no government wanted to lose territory but pushing Cambodians off Thai soil was something that had to be done without confrontation.

"I admit that I crossed the military operation line to the disputed area. We will know the answer [whether it is Thai or Cambodian soil] when we complete border demarcation,'' he said.

PAD spokesman Panthep Puapongpan said the fact PM Abhisit knew about the Cambodian flag being hoisted at the Thai temple for two days but failed to remove it showed his government was incompetent.

Cambodia has refused to remove the flag, claiming the area belongs to Cambodia according to the 1:200,000 square kilometre map.

He said the PM and his deputy must take responsibility if it accepts the Cambodian verdict on the case of the seven Thais since they were arrested on Thai soil.

Suthep urges caution amid 'troop boost'

via CAAI


Published: 30/01/2011

The government is appealing to yellow shirt protesters to show restraint amid reports that Cambodia is boosting troops at the border.

BORN TO BE WILD: People’s Alliance for Democracy co-leader Chamlong Srimuang patrols on a scooter as the PAD rally enters its fifth day at Makkhawan Rangsan bridge on Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue to protest the government’s approach to the Thai-Cambodian border dispute. PHOTO: JETJARAS NA RANONG

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban yesterday called on People's Alliance for Democracy protesters to tone down their attacks on Cambodia and be mindful of what they say during their rally near Government House.

He was speaking amid unconfirmed news agency reports that the Cambodian Ministry of Defence on Friday sent dozens of tanks and fighting vehicles, missiles and ammunition to the Preah Vihear temple area at the disputed border.

On its website, the Cambodian newspaper Duem Ampil quoted Information Minister Khieu Kanharith as saying that the Cambodian army had ordered its forces to be on a full alert to prevent any Thai attempt to enter Cambodian territory, while the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said a recent Thai military exercise at the border was provocative and could set off a war.

It also criticised Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's demand that Cambodia remove its flag from the Kaew Sikha Khiri Sawara temple, saying such a call was "unacceptable and Cambodia firmly rejects such an insulting demand".

The Thai army held a military drill in Nakhon Ratchasima on Thursday seen as an attempt to show its muscle.

Border tensions intensified over the past week after Cambodia put up tablets in the disputed area opposite Kantharalak district in Si Sa Ket criticising a Thai "invasion" of the area in 2008.

Phnom Penh later demolished the tablets, but any easing in border tensions looks to have been shortlived.

The Xinhua news agency reported yesterday that Cambodia has boosted troops at the border.

"We have warned Thai troops that if they dare to enter our territory, Cambodia will act in self-defence to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity," said a senior Cambodian officer, who asked not to be named.

In Bangkok the PAD has set up a protest site near Government House to demand the government take stronger action against Cambodia. Mr Suthep yesterday urged the protesters to exercise caution. "I want to tell [Cambodian] Prime Minister Hun Sen that what the protesters say has nothing to do with the government's stance," he said.

Meanwhile, the PAD has knocked back efforts by a Democrat MP jailed in Phnom Penh this month to broker talks with the government to end the Cambodia dispute.

Democrat MP Panich Vikitsreth yesterday urged the PAD to enter talks with the government.

However, the protest group leaders said they had yet to hear from him formally and in any event doubted the talks would succeed.

PAD spokesman Panthep Phuapongpan insisted Mr Panich had not approached yellow shirt leaders.

Mr Panich, a former vice-minister for foreign affairs, was among seven Thais jailed in Cambodia this month on border trespass charges.

"As far as the key men in the PAD are concerned, he has not contacted us. We see no benefit to our group from any talks anyway," the spokesman said.

"We will agree to talk only if the government accepts our demands."

The PAD, which is camped out on Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue, is demanding the government abolish the memorandum of understanding signed between Bangkok and Phnom Penh in 2000 on land border demarcation, withdraw Thailand from the World Heritage Committee and clear Cambodian villagers and troops from a disputed area near Preah Vihear temple.

Mr Abhisit, speaking from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Friday, said the protesters had the right to put up their demands but the government would do what is best for the country. "You know, they can make their demands. They have the right to do so. But as the government, we have to do what is the best for the country," he said.

Kasit's remarks on border unconvincing

via CAAI

Published on January 30, 2011

Dear Sir:

Regarding "PAD acting like a cry baby: Kasit" (January 27, 2011) Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya criticises his former allies the PAD yellow shirts for their calling for a tougher line by the government on the Preah Vihear border dispute with Cambodia and claims that he hasn't changed his position since the time before he became a minister. He also says it is "inappropriate to invoke international relations as a bargaining leverage to advance a domestic political agenda". He also calls for common development of "rich resources in the sea," presumably referring to oil and gas deals.
Actually, your story is an example of the reason why the PAD

has been criticising Mr Kasit

and the Abhisit government.

Mr Kasit says that he has not changed and that "The Abhisit Vejjajiva government is not prone to use force nor to insult the neighbouring country" but in 2009, he himself was quoted as calling Hun Sen "a nakleng." In 2008, he was quoted as calling him a "thug" on the rally stage of the PAD.

The PAD has a legitimate criticism of the way the border issue has been handled by the government since a previous foreign minister signed the notorious UNESCO MOU which led to that person's resignation. In 2008, a Thai court ruled that the bid to support Cambodia's application to have the 11th century temple listed as a World Heritage site was unconstitutional. So, the PAD has been right about this issue all along.

Also, regarding Mr Kasit's reference to "rich resources in the sea," this is what the PAD has been criticising the government for as trading off the Preah Vihear temple and border case due to interest in oil and gas deals.

In your article, Mr Kasit is quoted as saying "Integrity hinges on prudence and maturity; don't act like a baby and allow feelings to cloud judgement," however his own comments about the PAD lacking maturity, being "petulant" and a "cry baby" are not exactly mature.

Khun Sondhi and his followers are citizens of this country and have the right to question the government's leadership and policies. Khun Sondhi always speaks by producing facts, maps, quotes, and information. Mr Kasit offers no proof that the PAD's protests are due to pursuit of "a domestic political agenda."

Mr Kasit should ask himself whether he is applying the same standards to the PAD's protests against his government as to those against the Thaksin Shinawatra government in which he participated.

M Johnson


The Government of The Kingdom of Cambodia Refuses To Lower Flag from Contentious Pagoda

“Cambodia reserves its legitimate rights to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Click on image to zoom in

Wat Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak flying a Cambodian flag on Cambodia Territory (Photo: Koh Santepheap)

" We're still on high alert to defend our territorial integrity "


Royal Cambodian Armed Forces send troops to defend the border

Photos by Tbeng Meanchey (Koh Santepheap Daily News)

Anonymous said...

Much less of removing the flag, even lowering it is not an option for Cambodia. We have to stand up to what is ours and don't let thailand, a bully nation, push us around. This has been going on long enough. Enough is Enough!

what is your comment on this issue? Your idea would be appreciate