Border Banter: Thai and Cambodian PMs tackle disputes and scams in talks

Picture courtesy of Srettha Thavisin's Facebook account.

The discussion between Srettha Thavisin, the Prime Minister of Thailand, and his Cambodian counterpart, Hun Manet, will primarily revolve around the issues of Thai-Cambodia border disputes and call centre scams. The meeting is regarded as a significant move towards strengthening the bilateral ties between the two nations, as this is the Thai PM’s first visit to an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member country since he assumed office.

Foreign Affairs Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara was interviewed by the media on Wednesday about the meeting’s agenda. When asked whether the border territories, claimed by both Thailand and Cambodia, would be on the table for discussion, he confirmed that it was not part of PM Srettha’s itinerary.

The minister was also asked whether the discussion would address human rights issues or the disappearance of activist Wanchalearm Satsaksit. However, he responded by stating that he had not been briefed about any such cases.

Thai citizen Wanchalearm was allegedly kidnapped on June 4, 2020, outside his home in Phnom Penh by unidentified armed persons. Following his refusal to comply with a National Council for Peace and Order summons to report following the 2014 coup in Thailand, he has been living in self-imposed exile in Laos.

Wanchalearm was the subject of an arrest order from Thai police in June 2018 due to alleged violations of the Computer Crimes Act. His management of a Facebook page from Phnom Penh that was critical of the Thai government was at the centre of the accusations.

On Wednesday, Sitanan, Wanchalearm’s sister, went to the prime minister and presented him with a petition, appealing for him to look into her brother’s situation.

In related news, in the case of the Thai-Cambodian Preah Vihear, the court determined that Thailand had acknowledged the map and reached the verdict that the temple was located within Cambodian territory. Additionally, it ruled that Thailand had a responsibility to remove any military or police forces stationed in that area and to return any items taken from the ruins since 1954 to Cambodia.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.