Appointing Thaksin ‘an insult’ to Thai justice system
The Foreign Ministry has responded to Cambodia’s appointment of fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as its economic adviser by recalling the Thai ambassador to Cambodia.
The Thai government will also review cooperation and bilateral agreements between Thailand and Cambodia.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has ordered the Foreign Ministry to respond to Cambodian PM Hun Sen and his administration after Cambodia appointed fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra as its economic adviser.
The ministry has decided to recall the Thai ambassador to Cambodia tonight and will review cooperation as well as bilateral agreements between Thailand and Cambodia.
The Thai government affirmed that these measures are diplomatic means to respond to the Cambodian government’s move to and do not intend to provoke any standoff.
The Thai prime minister also insisted that such actions will not affect relations between Thais and Cambodians. He also reiterated that Thailand will not close the Thai-Cambodian border.
Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban earlier said the appointment of Thaksin as Cambodia’s economic adviser is Cambodia’s internal affairs, in which the Thai government will not interfere.
He noted that the Thai government will submit a letter to its Cambodian counterpart, demanding extradition of Thaksin should he take refuge in Cambodia.
Suthep stated that, in the meantime, the Thai government will check on whether Cambodia’s refusal to comply with such a request is violation of international laws or not.
The deputy prime minister went on to say that he believes Cambodia is not ready to jump into a political fray with Thailand.
In the meantime, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya declined to comment on the appointment of Thaksin as Cambodia’s economic adviser, asking reporters to wait for the prime minister’s opinion.
Meanwhile, Sirisak Tiyaphan, director general of the Office of the Attorney General’s Foreign Affairs Department, said Cambodia must hand over Thaksin to Thailand if he is found to be hiding there because there exists an extradition treaty between the two countries.
However, he commented that if the Cambodian government refuses to do so, it must have a good explanation.
Sirisak continued by saying that there were cases in the past in which some countries denied extradition requests from Thailand.
As for Thaksin’s extradition from Cambodia, he said nothing can be proceeded at the moment since it is not yet confirmed if the fugitive ex-premier is staying there.
Appointing Thaksin ‘an insult’ to Thai justice system
Thailand recalled its ambassador to Phnom Penh yesterday to protest against the appointment of convicted ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra as economic adviser to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his government.
At the same time, the government said it wanted to review all bilateral agreements and commitments signed between Thailand and Cambodia by both current and previous administrations.
Ambassador to Cambodia Prasas Prasavinitchai arrived in Bangkok at 9pm.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Thaksin’s appointment could be considered as Cambodia intervening in the Thai justice system and disregarding the feelings of Thai people. He added that the Foreign Ministry’s actions were aimed at making Cambodia realise the damage it had done.
“We have to implement diplomatic procedures to air our feelings. I have already given Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya the job of making the procedure public,” Abhisit said.
The premier insisted that the moves would not affect relations between the Thai and Cambodian public, who will continue to be good neighbours.
“We are conducting the protest at a governmental level,” he said.
In an order signed by Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni, Thaksin was appointed as economic adviser to Hun Sen and his government on Wednesday.
“Thaksin has already been appointed by royal decree … as personal adviser to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and the adviser to the Cambodian government in charge of economy,” said a statement from the Cambodian government that was read on television yesterday. “Allowing to stay in Cambodia is virtuous behaviour … good friends need to help each other in difficult circumstances.”
The statement went on to call charges against Thaksin as being “politically motivated” and vowed not to extradite him if he “decides to stay in Cambodia or travels in and out in order to fulfil his duties”.
Upon his arrival in Thailand last month to attend the Asean summit, Hun Sen announced that he had offered Thaksin, whom he regards as a close friend, a residence and a job.
The Foreign Ministry’s decision to recall the Thai ambassador is the strongest protest in years and the government has said all ongoing cooperation between the two nations would be put on hold for the time being.
The foreign minister’s secretary, Chavanont Intarakomalsut, agreed with Abhisit and reiterated that giving Thaksin a job could be seen as Cambodia intervening in the Thai justice system.
“Thaksin’s appointment is an insult to the Thai justice system,” he said at a press conference.
Giving Thaksin the job clearly shows that the Cambodian premier cannot distinguish between personal interests and the mutual interests of the two countries, Chavanont said.
Before the decision to recall the envoy was made, Abhisit called a meeting with Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan and senior army officers, including Army chief General Anupong Paochinda, early yesterday before meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban and Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya.
Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said the ministers had unanimously agreed to go ahead with the measures.
“Cambodia has sent us a clear signal and this is not the first time. It is obvious that they cannot separate international ties from personal friendships, so we have no other choice,” he said.
He added that Kasit would discuss the issue with high-ranking officials at Foreign Ministry and see what level the Thailand-Cambodia diplomatic ties should be downgraded to.
When asked if Abhisit would discuss the issue with Hun Sen, because both are due to attend a mini-summit in Tokyo of leaders from countries in the Mekong Basin on Friday and Saturday, Panitan said: “We are willing, if he [Hun Sen] wants to talk.”
In related news, reports say that the Cambodian army is on alert at the border area near the disputed Preah Vihear temple, where the two countries last fought in April.
“The situation is calm, but we’re on alert. The prime minister has already ordered us to protect our territory,” deputy commander-in-chief of the Cambodian armed forces Chea Dar said yesterday.
“Cambodia will not invade Thai territory, but if Thai troops enter even one-centimetre into our territory, they will be destroyed,” he added.
Meanwhile, Thaksin sent out a Twitter message yesterday accusing the Thai government of behaving like a child and overreacting by recalling the Thai envoy from Phnom Penh.