Friday, January 28, 2011

Just do as we demand, PAD tells govt

Flagging trouble: Thai troops are under pressure to remove a Cambodian national flag flying above the entrance to Kaew Sikha Khiri Sawara temple, located about 300 metres from the ancient Preah Vihear temple. Villagers have reportedly flown the flag alongside Buddhist flags for years.
Chamlong rejects offer of talks on Cambodia

Bangkok Post

The People's Alliance for Democracy has rejected the government's proposal for negotiations to end its rally.

It made its decision after the government proposed to send a delegation to hold talks to clear the air over the Thai-Cambodian border issues.

PAD core leader Chamlong Srimuang yesterday said any talks would be a waste of time.

He said government representatives had called and offered to hold a live debate.

``It is not time for talks. The government should comply with our demands,'' he said.

Maj Gen Chamlong also voiced disagreement with the plan of Chaiwat Sinsuwong, a core leader of the PAD-linked Thai Patriots Network (TPN), to bring in the red shirts to strengthen the anti-government rally.

Maj Gen Chamlong said the PAD would not get involved with the TPN's business.

The PAD has been protesting against the government by blocking Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue since Tuesday over its handling of Thai-Cambodian border disputes.

The group is demanding Thailand's withdrawal from the Unesco World Heritage Committee, the revocation of the 2000 MoU signed with Cambodia and ejecting Cambodians in border areas the group claims belong to Thailand back to their homeland.

Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayakorn said the government has put together a team to clarify the issues to PAD leaders with staff from the Foreign Ministry as core speakers.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has stressed the need to hold talks with the yellow shirts to clear up any confusion and get the facts straight, he said.

``The longer the protest the worse it becomes for all parties concerned.

``The government has a team ready to talk with the PAD. They are people in charge of border issues,'' Mr Panitan said.

He said authorities cannot allow the rally and must enforce the law to keep protesters away _ a step the government hopes it will not have to take.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said yesterday the prime minister is expected to lead the talks after his return from Switzerland where he is attending the World Economic Forum _ if the PAD agrees.

Mr Chaiwat said he had asked key members of the red shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship to joint the TPN in its fight against the government. He said that while he was in jail he had discussed with the detained red shirt leaders ways to protest against the government.

``I told them that the TPN will continue rallying at the No.4 entrance gate of Government House and the yellow shirts will protest on Ratchadamnoen Avenue.

``I asked the red shirts to gather at Orathai bridge near the prime minister's office building compound,'' Mr Chaiwat said.

The red shirt key figures said they would have to discuss the matter with other leaders before making any decision, he added.

Meanwhile, the 2nd Army is seeking the removal of a Cambodian national flag at the entrance of Kaew Sikha Khiri Sawara temple next to the ancient Preah Vihear temple.

A border source said that 2nd Army commander Thawatchai Samutsakhon has been talking to local Cambodian military leaders about removing the flag. The move comes after the prime minister's order and public pressure.

Just days ago, Thailand persuaded Cambodia to demolish a stone tablet reading ``Here! is Cambodia''.

According to the source, the Cambodian military denied putting up the flag at the temple's entrance.

It was placed there by local villagers.

Lt Gen Thawatchai, the source said, feels uncomfortable about this as it is almost a non-issue.

``First the tablet. Now the flag decoration. They should think about the troops working with their Cambodian counterparts in the area,'' said the source.

The flag is neither a sign nor a claim that it is Cambodian territory, the source said.

It was there before Thai troops were deployed at the temple in July 2008 when border tensions escalated.


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