Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Time to deal with Hun Sen based on his true colours
How long can Thailand and the Thai people tolerate Cambodian leader Hun Sen for his unpredictable but always hostile stance towards us? It has never changed, in all his years in power.
This question deserves a prompt response from the Thai government as well as our armed forces, now that we know so much about Hun Sen's intentional encroachment on our land and sea territories.
Latest reports say that the Cambodians have moved their border markers up to 25 kilometres inside our territory in some areas. If there is no resistance, Thailand stands to lose huge patches of land in areas along the 900-kilometre joint border.
Hun Sen's open hostility towards Thailand has long been known, and was especially evident during a Phnom Penh riot which saw the burning of the Thai Embassy and Thai businesses in the Cambodian capital. This happened when Thaksin Shinawatra was prime minister.
No punishment or retaliation was deemed necessary. No lesson was given to Hun Sen. On the contrary, the government at that time doled out a sweetheart loan to Hun Sen for his government to pay compensation to Thai businesses. Chiefly and first among the recipients were businesses owned by Thaksin's family.
For years, Hun Sen has extracted wealth from Thailand by various means. He allows the opening of casinos along the border, mainly to lure Thai gamblers, making them a main source of revenue for himself, with meagre amounts filtering into the national coffers.
Hun Sen is a fearsome overlord who has decided on life and death for Cambodians during his reign. He is a fake nationalist who exploits us to ensure his own longevity in power. Thailand has been picked as a scapegoat and a target in his battle cry for patriotism. He works Cambodians into a frenzy over many issues related to Thailand, and he regards Thailand as a long-standing enemy. He forgets the fact that tens of thousands of Cambodians are living in Thailand as labourers and beggars, not to mention the hordes of thieves and smugglers in the border areas.
Who is to blame for this ridiculous state of affairs? Mainly the Thai government, of course, for its soft-handed approach to bilateral diplomacy just to please the big bully in Phnom Penh. Thailand has for years regarded itself as the big brother who has to put up with the brat younger brother. This has become very costly, solely at our expense.
Firstly, we are losing land and maritime territories, and proven petroleum deposits in the joint development areas. Secondly, we are losing land surrounding the ancient Preah Vihear temple overlooking Cambodia. There is no proper resistance to this, and we stand to lose forever a possible claim to the ancient ruins, which are registered as a Unesco World Heritage site due to Hun Sen's scheming and lobbying. Thirdly, we are losing land along other the borderareas, which will enable Cambodia to claim more areas for its own benefit.
Other hostile acts are going on. By appointing Thaksin as an adviser, Hun Sen also provides refuge to key red-shirt leaders who have fled across the border, enjoying their days in casinos and resorts, away from Thai prisons. Not only are these safe havens, the red shirts are providing training for armed militias to start another terror campaign once the emergency decree has been lifted by the Thai government and the red shirts are allowed to regroup for renewed rallies.
As a token, two-faced gesture, Hun Sen has agreed to send back two small fry who are accused of masterminding a bomb blast at the Bhum Jai Thai Party headquarters in Bangkok. The big fish, sought under Thai arrest warrants, remain untouched.
Should we feign ignorance towards Hun Sen's sabre-rattling? He is surely a snake in the grass for Thailand, always seeking to gain ground when we have problems. His sheltering of Thaksin's band of terrorists and saboteurs deserves our forceful and meaningful retaliation. Hun Sen only understands this kind of action. If we continue to be seen as a wimp, we only stand to lose more to the bully in Phnom Penh - with the blessings of Thaksin and his cronies.
Let Hun Sen choose whether he wants friendship or hostility, and be clear about it, so that we can respond accordingly and do away with his two-faced diplomacy. The Nation, Bangkok