Cambodia’s Reaction Against Bangkok Post’s Editorial

The Royal Embassy of Cambodia to Thailand has strongly reacted to an editorial article of the Bangkok Post, considering it as completely ridiculous, absurd and vulgar.

Below is the full letter of Cambodian Chargé d’Affaires a.i. Ouk Sophoin to the editor of the Bangkok Post, Pattnapong Chantranontwong dated Jan. 19:

“I would like to reply to the editorial article written by Pavin Chachavalpongpun, the pseudo Thai scholar, published in your newspaper, Bangkok Post, on 18 January 2010, under the title “In spat with ‘Siem’, Hun Sen needs Hanoi in his corner.” Although this article is completely ridiculous, absurd and vulgar, it has fully demonstrated how your newspaper has simply become a political tool to serve the government in power and those who have a political agenda in order to undermine the current relations between Cambodia and Thailand, without having any utter sense of professional journalism, truth, tactfulness and politeness.

Therefore, what your newspaper has done is to allow the view of such a vulgar scholar to express his ultra-nationalistic and fundamentally provocative view, which has significantly contributed to the worsening of the bilateral relations and escalating tensions between the two neighboring countries. Both your newspaper and this pseudo, cocky scholar would be held accountable for the growing tensions between the two countries.

 First, for Cambodia, the restoration of diplomatic relations depends on several important factors: (1) Thailand must stop demanding for and encroaching on Cambodia’s land near the Preah Vihear Temple; (2) Thailand must stop opposing the inscription of Cambodia’s Preah Vihear Temple on the World Heritage List; (3) Thailand must stop demanding to use its own term for Cambodia’s Preah Vihear Temple which had long been used by the Khmer people since the 11th century when it was built and named, as well as had been recognized by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) since 1962 and more recently by the World Heritage Committee.

Second, to say that “Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen continues to challenge the Thai leadership” is completely ignorant. Samdech Techo Hun Sen has never challenged the leadership of any country, including Thailand. Prime Minister Hun Sen only defends the national interests, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Cambodia. As the prime minister of Cambodia, he has the right to appoint any person to be advisers to the Cambodian government. This is the sovereign right of Cambodia.

Third, the Cambodian leaders do not engage in a zero sum game and would not use the balance of power in Cambodia’s relations with its neighboring countries. Our Cambodian leaders would never play “one neighbor against the other,” as pretentiously claimed by this unscientific, discredited author. In fact, they are only dealing with realpolitics in Cambodia’s relations with its neighbor.

Fourth, your newspaper should stop misleading the public on the history of Cambodia. Historically, the Army of United Front for National Salvation of Cambodia was set up in 1978 by the Cambodian leaders, namely Samdech Chea Sim, Samdech Hun Sen, and Samdech Heng Samrin, and appealed to Vietnam for help in order to topple the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime. Without the collapse of the Khmer Rouge at the time, there would not be any Khmer Rouge tribunal today. In fact, the Vietnamese troops all withdrew in 1989, two years before the signing of the Paris Peace Agreements in October 1991.

Fifth, the bilateral relations between Cambodia and Thailand are fundamentally based on mutual respect. If a neighboring state treats another neighboring country well, that country would certainly reciprocate in kind. This is the principle of reciprocity, which is widely used in international relations.

Sixth, I think that this pseudo scholar has quoted an opposition party leader in Cambodia, who has been well-known as ultra-nationalistic and xenophobic. By quoting Sam Rainsy’s words on Cambodia-Vietnam border issue, this vulgar scholar has allowed himself to become the spokesperson of Sam Rainsy, without knowing it.

Finally, to claim that H.E. Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation: Ambassador Hor Nambora, Cambodia’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom; and Ambassador You Ay, Cambodia’s Ambassador to Thailand, are of the Vietnamese lineage is absolutely an insult. This Thai ill-bred scholar, if he is civilized and well-educated, would not state such a thing that Cambodian leaders and high officials are “Vietnamese proxies.” It should be recalled that these words were the favorite terms used by the Khmer Rouge to attack the Government which had overthrown the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime in 1979. Do you know the name of the neighboring country which helped and sheltered the Khmer Rouge in the 1980s and for most of the 1990s?

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