Noppadon Pattama Discloses Internal Affairs in Negotiations about the Preah Vihear Temple Leading to Border Disputes November 24, 2008Posted by chandrapong007 in Cambodia, Politics.
“Five months after losing his position, the former Siamese [Thai] Minister of Foreign Affairs Noppadon Pattama [นพดล ปัทมะ], had to sleep with sorrow, before deciding to retire from politics and become a businessman, running an Italian restaurant at the Chao Praya riverside in Bangkok. Because he wanted to explain his recent pain, Mr. Noppadon Pattama wrote and published a book with the title “I Am No Traitor” to respond to different accusations against him.
“The following is an interview by local journalists in Siam with Mr. Noppadon Pattama, after he had published a book about the time when he was the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and was in charge of the dispute with Cambodia:
“Question: Why did the Preah Vihear Temple become a point that politicians attacked you?
“Noppadon: I took office in February 2008, but the UNESCO [World Heritage Committee] made its decision over the Preah Vihear Temple only in July 2008. At that time, we had only five months left to protest. I know that Siamese people from all levels would worry about a loss.
“In fact I took over this work from previous minister who has not finished the problem, because Cambodia sent a request to the UNESCO, including a 4.6 square/km disputed region. The government of Mr. Surayud Chulanont [สุรยุทธ์ จุลานนท์ – prime minister from 1 October 2006 to 29 January 2008, after the ouster of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra] always opposed to move [in 2007], until Cambodia agreed to postpone, but [Cambodia] put pressure on Siam to agree with a new request next year. What was more important was that UNESCO found that the Preah Vihear Temple was really marvelous and well qualified to be listed, and the UNESCO World Heritage Committee just waited for an agreement between Cambodia and Thailand on some points.
“I used the negotiations in Koh Kong and in Paris [22 May 2008], until Cambodia agreed to withdraw [the claim for the 4.6 square km disputed region], and cut out the disputed region [see the Joint Communique of 18 June 2008, which says: “…the Kingdom of Cambodia accepts that the Temple of Preah Vihear be nominated for inscription on the World Heritage List without at this stage a buffer zone on the northern and western areas of the Temple”]. It was a significant success, but people accused me of selling the nation; it is not true at all. Previously, even Major-General Denmichoak [? – phonetic], the head of the Military Map Department, who just passed away, said that there was no invasion into Thai territory [sanctioned by the Joint Communique], and he claimed this, based on the border line in Map L7071.
“Question: Did Cambodia agree to exclude the disputed region because of pressure or because we negotiated?
“Noppadon: First, it was because we negotiated while Cambodia disagreed, because the Preah Vihear Temple waited to be listed on the World Heritage Site list. Moreover, Cambodia had issued currency with images of the Preah Vihear Temple. One year before [in 2007], Cambodia missed the chance once, so before the elections [27 July 2008], the Cambodian government urgently wanted to have the temple listed; therefore, when we opposed to include the disputed region, Cambodia was concerned that it could not get it listed in time, and they agreed to exclude the disputed region.
“Question: What was negotiated in Koh Kong?
“Noppadon: On that day, I flew in a helicopter to Koh Kong to inaugurate the Siamese-Cambodian Friendship Road, and I took the opportunity to talk to Deputy Prime Minister Sok An. Mr. Sok An disagreed with me immediately, ‘Mr. Noppadon Pattama, that area is not in the buffer zone, because the International Court had decided [in 1962] that the area belongs to Cambodia.’ I explained to Mr. Sok An that the International Court only decided that the Preah Vihear Temple belongs to Cambodia, but did not decide on the territory. We argued with each other, and at that time, I suggested whether it was possible or not to include the Preah Vihear Temple only. Then, Mr. Sok An took it for a discussions with the leaders of the Cambodian government. At that moment, I felt that Cambodia simply agreed, because there were only two months left before the elections, and they were unsure whether it could be listed or not.
“After that, we agreed that there was need for a trustworthy document to assure to list the temple only. Cambodia withdrew the old maps they had sent, and replaced them with a new one. At last, we met in Paris [on 22 May 2008] and finally agreed at 11:30 p.m. I looked at the new map and signed it, saying that it was usable, if it would be adopted by the cabinet, but the president of the opposition party, Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva [อภิสิทธิ์ เวชชาชีวะ], accused me later of secretly signing something with Cambodia.
“Afterwards, I brought it back and reported it during a meeting of the parliament on 26 May 2008. Can I carry the problem of the whole nation alone? Officials must understand this. I took this problem to the Council for National Security, where General Winai Phatthiyakul, who was National Security Council secretary-general at that time, praised me very much. General Anupong Paochinda [อนุพงษ์ เผ่าจินดา], the army commander-in-chief, told me that it was good to have made these achievements through the negotiations, because it was a long lasting problem.
“Finally, I was told to be guilty. I thought that I became a political hostage, because of a small number of demonstrators who use the law of the jungle, and because of some politicians in Thailand.
“They see the Preah Vihear Temple as a delicious bait to destroy our government, because through territorial and ethnic problems, they can agitate the citizens easily.
“Question: There has been stronger opposition since you returned from Paris [22 May 2008]. What do you think about it?
“Noppadon: I think about it too, but I think that if I had let Cambodia list also the disputed 4.6 square km area, I would have been cursed much stronger than I was.
“Question: Is Noppadon’s success related to the former prime minister, Mr. Thaksin, or not?
“Noppadon: There is no involvement at all. Mr. Thaksin did not call Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen by phone. I used to be Mr. Thaksin’s advisor, and Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen and Deputy Prime Minister [Sok An] knew it, but I never asked Mr. Thaksin to call and give advise. Cambodian leaders know this and Cambodia and Siam are neighboring countries.
“Question: Have you ever felt that your mistake led to the death of soldiers at the Cambodian-Thai border dispute?
“Noppadon: I feel pity, but it is not me that made it happen. I dare to say that if one had followed me, those problems would not have happened, and it would not have led to soldiers to confront each other. There is no need to shed blood. Officials of the government would not need to negotiate again and again and have replacements for three or four Ministers of Foreign Affairs, and the relations with Mr. Hun Sen’s government would still be good.” Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3443, 22.11.2008
Read the Khmer Version: http://kanhchoksangkum.wordpress.com/2008/11/22/%e1%9e%8e%e1%9e%bb%e1%9e%94%e2%80%8b-%e1%9e%94%e1%9f%89%e1%9e%b6%e1%9e%8a%e1%9e%93%e2%80%8b-%e1%9e%91%e1%9e%98%e1%9f%92%e1%9e%9b%e1%9e%b6%e1%9e%99%e2%80%8b%e1%9e%9a%e1%9e%bf%e1%9e%84%e2%80%8b%e1%9e%95/