Sunday, June 21, 2009

Government Waits For Compensation for Damage To Temple

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The Royal Government of Cambodia has been waiting for compensation for damage to the Preah Vihear temple caused during recent clashes by Thai troops. They are charged with burning down a market in front of the 900-year-old temple on April 3, 2009.

Hor Namhong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said that the Government still considers the demand for compensation from the Thai government to be in effect and the government is now waiting for it.

The Deputy Prime Minister said his government will not withdraw its demand for damage caused by Thai soldiers, event though the Thai side has currently returned seven ancient statues to Cambodia during an official visit of Her Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

“The Royal Government still demands the Thai side takes full responsibility for damage caused by Thai soldiers and to compensate Cambodian families who have lost their entire livelihood at the Preah Vihear Temple,” he told reporters after a signing ceremony of exchange of note on the extension of grant aid in Phnom Penh on June 15.

The Deputy Prime Minister continued to say that his government is waiting for the Thai government to conduct and complete investigations first.

“I think after the Thai investigation is completed, the issue will be raised again,” he said.

Phay Siphan, Spokesman and Secretary of State for the Council of Ministers, said that at the time, the Thai Commander-In-Chief recognized the damage caused by his soldiers.

The spokesperson said the Thai Government has now started investigating the extent of the damage to the ancient temple following receipt on May 11, 2009 of a diplomatic note from Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, demanding compensation.

“Cambodia and Thailand are neighboring countries and we are also the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Therefore, I think that the Thai side will not deny the compensation demands for damage caused to Preah Vihear temple,” he said during a personal interview with The Southeast Asia Weekly on June 17.

Bun Sokuntheara, Operations Manager for Central Express Tours, said that in 2001, there was a demonstration outside the Thai Embassy and Thai businesses in Phnom Penh following statements from a Thai film star claiming that Angkor Wat belonged to Thailand. The Cambodian government had to pay over US$50 million damages caused to the embassy and businesses.

“Given this fact, I strongly support the Cambodia Government’s demands for compensation. The Thai government has to take full responsibility for damage and must pay for the losses,” he told The Southeast Asia Weekly on June 17.

In the April incident, damage was caused to the Preah Vihear temple and a market with 264 stands was completed destroyed, causing great hardship and misery to 319 Cambodian families who have lost their entire livelihood.

The diplomatic note mentioned that the losses incurred by these families with amounts to US$2,150,500. The Cambodian Government demands that the Thai Government takes full responsibility for this damage caused by Thai soldiers.///




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