CAMBODIA: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!
Friday, 25 July 2008
Op-Ed by Chanda Chhay
There are many ways to deal with a thug. But, there is only one proper way to deal with a misbehaving, neighboring nation. That is to stand firm and be fair with it, and, if necessary, deprive it of what it wanted most.
It is as clear as daylight that the 4.6 square kilometer of so-called disputed land around the Khmer Temple of Preah Vihear was not what Thailand wanted. What it really wanted is a guaranteed access to Prasat Preah Vihear—the main attraction and an economic lifeline for the arid Si Saket province of Thailand. Without Preah Vihear, the surrounding areas would be just like any other part of the Dangrek Mountain ranges—rocks and trees.
The flagrant incursion of Thai armed forces onto the sacred ground of Preah Vihear has been going on long enough. The Thai government should know better by now that it could only defy words of condemnation or warning, but it could not defy international norms and laws. By the same token, the Cambodian government should know that the muddled head Thai leaders wanted to turn every legal and internationally-recognized document pertaining to the sovereignty of Cambodia upside down and subject Cambodia to the whim of their myopic thoughts.
So, what is Cambodia to do in order to deal with the situation? One very simple and effective solution to this problem is to publicly announce to the international community and to Thailand, in particular, that the access to Preah Vihear from Thailand is no longer open due to the difficulty in preventing illegal trespassing and thefts to the temple’s artifacts, which is now a World Heritage site. As proprietor of the temple, Cambodia has an obligation and a right to safeguard it. If Thailand, as a good neighbor, wanted to offer assistance and collaboration in protecting this World Heritage site, it MUST recognize and respect the treaties of 1904 and 1907 regarding the common border of Cambodia and Thailand. Period!
Preah Vihear is not a political football to be kicked around and see who will win or lose. It has suffered neglect and abuses by humans long enough. It is now time for us to restore and preserve it for posterity. This current crisis is perhaps the best opportunity for us to look beyond the tourist dollars and to give Preah Vihear what it deserves most: Restoration and research on the site, so that humankind could have a better understanding of its history and functionality.
Washington, DC (USA)