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Thailand-Cambodia word war continues

Cambodia accuses Thailand of provoking a war when the latter sent troops in the disputed Preah Vihear territory last year. Thailand accuses Cambodia of interfering on its internal affairs when Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen appointed former Thailand Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra as his special economic adviser. Some scholars would argue that the ongoing diplomatic row between Thailand and Cambodia reflects the long history that the two neighbors share together.

Thaksin was ousted in a 2006 coup. To escape serving a prison term for corruption, Thaksin has been living in many countries around the world. The billionaire politician believes he could not get a fair trial in Thailand. He is accusing the present government of being illegitimate and repressive.

The quarrel intensified last week when Thaksin arrived in Phonom Penh to give a lecture on the global economic crisis. Angered by this development, Thailand recalled its ambassador to Cambodia. This was reciprocated by Cambodia. Thailand Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has warned that he might decide to close the Thailand-Cambodia borders. Thai authorities are preparing to evacuate its citizens in Cambodia in case a war erupts between the two nations.

In the previous post, I featured the reactions of Cambodian bloggers. In this post, I will highlight the views of Thailand-based bloggers.

Bangkok Dazed believes the citizens of the two countries would suffer from the continuing diplomatic row:

Once again, politics rears its ugly head and the victims will be the citizens of both countries, most of whom could care less if Thaksin is appointed economic advisor by Hun Sen. In an ideal world someone would vaporize both “leaders” and let more intelligent people make the decisions … but that’s only wishful thinking.

A Bangkok University poll was conducted last November 11-12 about the sentiments of the people on the issue. The poll showed interesting results

Your feelings now about Thaksin?
a- no real feeling, passive: 29.3%
b- dislike, dissatisfied with: 26.6%
c- feel sympathy for: 18%
d- disappointed in: 15%
e- admire: 6.7%
f- others: 3.7%

What should be the position of the Abhisit government on relations between Thailand and Cambodia?
a- soft approach by negotiating: 61.5%
b- aggressive approach – do whatever it takes for the honour and dignity of the country: 21%
c- unsure, no opinion: 17.8%

Should Thailand stop its assistance projects to Cambodia?
a- no: 41.4%
b- yes: 40.4%
c- unsure: 18.%

Should Thailand close the Thai-Cambodian Border?
a- yes: 19.8%
b- no: 68.6%
c- unsure: 11.6%

Thaksin has been called a traitor for accepting a post in Cambodia. Bangkok Pundit reminds Thai officials that there were former Thai leaders who worked for international and foreign organizations in the past

Is Dr. Supachai as UNCTAD Sec-Gen (and before WTO Sec-Gen) a traitor working for an international organization? What about Surin Pitsuwan, former Foreign Minister under the Democrats, becoming ASEAN Secretary-General?

Bangkok Pundit sees plenty of extreme nationalist rhetoric from the Democrats, but little criticism of this. Thaksin is labeled a traitor or evil person as if he is no longer human.

Thailand Crisis criticizes the incumbent Prime Minister for using a cheap propaganda trick in order to deflect attention from real problems

Abhisit is not ashamed to use a very cheap propaganda trick, in order to deflect attention from real problems and real issues. It’s the eternal “scapegoat” principle, mixed with the good old : “let’s go after foreigners”. Unfortunately, It works very well

Siam Report tries to understand the decision of Thaksin to accept the offer of Cambodian leader Hun Sen to serve as adviser

The Abhisit government was botching Cambodia policy on its own accord, but by accepting the position as an economic advisor to Hun Sen, Thaksin has given the government and its backers more ammunition to portray him as a real traitor. It’s now quite easy for the government to hide their own policy failures with Cambodia and blame everything on Thaksin and Hun Sen. Perhaps Thaksin is trying to bait the government into a massive overreaction, so that bilateral relations completely crash and burn. This might just be what happens, but it’s unclear whether Thaksin will gain from this outcome. Besides, Thaksin can win this game other ways with far less risk to himself and his supporters

Talen couldn’t believe that Thaksin agreed to be Cambodia’s adviser:

I really didn’t think Thaksin would stoop so low as to take this job offer. Obviously he wants to be as close to Thailand as he can as he plans ways to get back into his native country but by doing so through Cambodia he weakens his already tenuous position. His own backers and political allies see Cambodia as a threat and becoming a friend of your enemy is never a good way to endear your people.

It’s hard to imagine what Thaksin might be thinking but thinking clearly he is not. What seems more plausible is that Cambodia is using Thaksin to antagonize Thailand further, seemingly instigating Thailand towards a conflict.

Twitter reactions from Bangkok

photo_journ: RT @BangkokDan: Why doesn't Cambodia appoint Thaksin as ambassador to Bangkok with diplomatic immunity and such. Like to see that LOL
speculates: My dad asked me if we have a war with Cambodia, what side Laos and Myanmar will support, us or Cambodia? Interesting question…
MartinPerry: Thai government have proven they really don't want Thaksin back, they denied his private jets flight plan through Thai airspace…
Patee122: Hunsen will not be there forever but Cambodia and Thailand will. If Asean is not strong we will never be strong together.
somaaewong: RT @Patee122: Everytime there is an international summit. All the news that are reported are of Mr Thaksin and conflicts< tri26: I've got my week supply of food (esp Doritos), so if war breaks out with Cambodia, I'll be ok… so, BRING IT ON Hun Sen!!
somkiatonwimon: For Dr. Thaksin it is sad that he has no one to advise him in such a way that he has advised the Cambodian government.
tun0020: It is not that I like Thaksin, I just don't like people who hate Thaksin without any reason, but the name “Thaksin”
pramote: Cambodian people should realize that Hun Sen is not working in the interest of the country by appointing fugitive Thaksin as his advisor

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