Thai Foreign Minister sued over Preah Vihear dispute


BANGKOK, Jan 14 – The Thailand Patriots Network, a group of nationalists, on Monday filed a lawsuit against the Foreign Ministry and its senior officials for malfeasance, accusing them of giving false information causing public confusion and misunderstanding on the Thai-Cambodian dispute concerning border area surrounding Pra Viharn (Preah Vihear) Temple.

Network key leaders Chaiwat Sinsuwong, Wanwipa Burutrattanapan and Somboon Thongburan filed suit at the Criminal Court today against the ministry, Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, Permanent-Secretary for Foreign Affairs Seehasak Puangkatekaew, Director-General of Department of East Asian Affairs Pasakorn Siriyapan, Director-General for Department of Information and Foreign Ministry Spokesman Thani Thongpakdi, and Deputy Director-General for the Treaties and Legal Affairs Department Touchayoot Pakdi.

All were accused of malfeasance for their alleged role in distributing false information in the documents on “the Information that the Thai public should know regarding the Preah Vihear Temple and the Thai-Cambodian border demarcation negotiations”

The documents said that “On May 1, 2010, the foreign ministry has informed Phnom Penh that the three minutes on a meeting of the Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission (JBC) have been enforced as legal procedure on the case in Thailand has already completed and Phnom Penh sent a letter back to Bangkok to acknowledge the matter.”

The plaintiffs claimed, in fact, the three minutes could not be in force as they have not yet been endorsed by the Thai Parliament as required by the Constitution.

The court agreed to accept the complaint for consideration.

Mr Chaiwat said the group has collected a 700,000 signature name list of those who oppose the government’s position on the Preah Vihear case.

He said the movement expects to get one million signatures by next Monday. The group will then announce its next move on the case and will march to submit the petition to the Supreme Court president and the commanders of armed forces, asking them to perform their duty to protect the country’s interest and sovereignty.

The network’s latest move came as tensions mounting. Both countries are scheduled to give their oral statements on the dispute at The International Court of Justice at The Hague, Netherlands, April 15-19.

Cambodia earlier asked the court to clarify its 1962 ruling on the area surrounding the ancient temple.

The court is expected to issue its ruling later this year.