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Thais ask: Who owns the jeep?

PHUKET: With troops withdrawing as tensions have eased between Thailand and Cambodia over the disputed Preah Vihear temple, a new irritant stirring nationalist sentiments is the ownership of the jeep, a graceful hand position that is part of traditional dance and shadow plays of both countries.

Saturday 20 August 2011, 04:10AM

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is likely to consider the origins of the jeeb – a hand position where the thumb touches the index finger and the three other fingers are fanned out, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

New Thai Culture Minister Sukumol Kunplome has made ownership of the jeeb a priority.

In 2008 Cambodia listed Khmer shadow theatre on UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, along with the Royal Ballet of Cambodia, also known as Khmer Classical Dance. The list included Khmer hand gestures, including the jeeb.

Ms Sukumol has been advised that Thailand can also register the jeeb and other shadow plays with UNESCO.

"This is the first mission and we will proceed urgently because people are interested," Ms Sukumol said. "They are part of the Thai cultural heritage, so if another country has registered them, we have to find a solution."

Ms Sukumol said the jeeb has been used widely to promote Thai culture and it would be controversial if it was branded "Cambodian".

To pursue its claim, Thailand will have to first become a member of UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.


Meanwhile, tensions have eased over Preah Vihear after the installation last week of the six-party coalition Government led by Yingluck Shinawatra, the younger sister of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who is living in exile in Dubai.

Thailand and Cambodia have agreed to convene a committee to discuss the Preah Vihear dispute over which the two countries have fought each other numerous times.

Thai soldiers had been killed and thousands of villagers were displaced by armed clashes at the temple and another disputed border zone earlier this year.



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