Phuket News: 'No collusion' over Preah Vihear
BANGKOK: Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul has denied allegations that the government has colluded with Cambodia in the Preah Vihear temple dispute case.
Sunday 21 April 2013, 09:16AM
Speaking on the weekly broadcast Prime Minister Yingluck Meets the People Saturday, Mr Surapong said the Thai legal team's performance at the International Court of Justice ( ICJ) disproved the allegations levelled against the government by critics who he didn't identify.
He said the government picked the same legal team as that used by the previous government to fight the Preah Vihear temple case at the World Court.
The Thai legal team, armed with a great deal of expertise and experience, had studied the issue for more than three years, he said.
"The legal team did the job to the best of their ability," Mr Surapong said.
He denied that the government picked the same legal team because it wanted to deflect blame on to the last Democrat administration if Thailand lost the legal battle in the court.
"We don't mix national interests with political game playing," he said.
The Thai team reaffirmed that Phnom Penh's request for reinterpretation of the 1962 ruling, which awarded Preah Vihear to Cambodia, was unwarranted. The case was finalised and Thailand complied with the ruling, Mr Surapong said.
He said the Foreign Ministry and the Thai legal team will compile information on Preah Vihear to distribute to the public.
The ministry would also have to be ready if the court delivers a ruling unfavourable to Thailand, Mr Surapong said.
But whatever the ruling, relations between Thailand and Cambodia will strengthen after they enter the Asean Community in 2015, he said.
Mr Surapong said he will meet with his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong in the next few months to discuss economic and social development plans.
Also appearing on the weekly programme was Virachai Plasai, the Thai ambassador to The Netherlands who headed the Thai legal team in the Preah Vihear temple case. He said the strength of the team was that it had devoted a great deal of time to studying maps relating to the case while Cambodia did not pay enough attention to that issue and did not have experts on maps.
Mr Virachai said the legal team had worked with the full support of both the Yingluck government and the previous administration which allowed a "seamless" operation.
The team also received help and cooperation from all involved including the military, government officials, academics and parliament, he said.
"If there is any success in the legal battle, credit should go to Thai society as a whole," he said.
Mr Virachai encouraged Thais to study the information and documents presented during the oral statement so that when the World Court delivers its verdict on the case in October, they could understand the issue better.
After the Thai team made its closing statement on Friday night, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra telephoned them and gave praise for an excellent job.
Democrat spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut also applauded the Thai legal team and the four foreign lawyers representing Thailand for their ability to rebut Cambodia's allegations.
He also urged the government to prepare to deal with the court's ruling, however it goes.
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