BANGKOK, Jan 29 – Thailand’s Foreign Ministry will issue a question-and-answer handbook to create public understanding of the Phra Viharn (Prear Vihear) temple dispute between Thailand and Cambodia, a ministry spokesman said.
Nattawut Pothisaro, spokesman of the Thai legal team defending the dispute, said the handbook, titled “50 Years, 50 Points, Q&A on Phra Viharn Temple,” will be distributed to government agencies and schools and universities next week while the general public can view or download the handbook on the Foreign Ministry’s website: www.mfa.go.th/phraviharn from today.
According to a recent survey by ABAC Poll, 82.5 per cent of people said the government has failed to give clear information on the Phra Viharn legal conflict which is pending a ruling by the International Court of Justice.
Mr Nattawut said the poll results prompted the Foreign Ministry to provide more information on the complicated issue which has engaged Thailand and Cambodia for years.
The handbook consists of 50 Q&A subjects to remove public doubts regarding the Phra Viharn dispute, he said, adding that more publicity in the form of cartoons and documentaries will also be produced.
Mr Nattawut said an official team will meet soon with community leaders and government officials in some provinces along the Thai-Cambodian border to disseminate the information on the temple dispute.
He said that the Thai people have started to understand that the dispute is an old court case and that Cambodia has sought an International Court of Justice (ICJ) interpretation of the 1962 ruling.
He added that Thailand has protested about 40 times against Cambodia’s construction in the disputed zone, with the latest protest lodged in November.
“I can assure that the Foreign Ministry has done in every manner to protect Thailand’s rights under international law. I ask the public to feel comfortable [about the ministry’s activity]. However, we have to be careful about bilateral relationship,” he said.
Cambodia has sought the world court’s ruling on its claimed ownership of a 4.6 sq km parcel of land surrounding Phra Viharn. The ICJ ruled in 1962 that the structure belonged to Cambodia but no decision was made on the adjacent land.