Our expatriate Dutch correspondent H. Numan files this report on the latest news from Thailand:
It’s quiet down here. The temperature is cool. That might account for it. But the political temperature between Thailand and Cambodia is glacial at the moment.
You may recall Thailand and Cambodia have a longstanding border dispute. It dates back to the days when Cambodia was a French colony. French engineers mapped the border between Thailand and their colony, not surprisingly to their advantage.
Currently the problems are focused on the Preah Vihear Temple. This temple is located in Cambodia, but can only be accessed through Thailand.
We had some very minor border clashes, but nothing to worry about. Until, that is, our ousted Prime Minister Thaksin came into view again.
Thaksin was ousted in a bloodless coup a few years ago. He was convicted of fraud and tax evasion, and has to serve a jail sentence of two years. Of course this is a political trial, and naturally he shouts to anyone that he’s innocent.
The poor man wandered all alone over the globe. In his private jet plane, resting in five star plus resorts. After his Thai diplomatic passport was withdrawn he bought a new one, from Nicaragua.
Nice to see that friend of the people Daniel Ortega helps out a poor oppressed soul — if they pay his price. I sincerely hope Mr. Ortega will remember that Thais have memories like elephants. They’re not likely to forget who is a friend of their country and who is not.
Then all of a sudden Prime Minister Hun Sen from Cambodia announces he takes pity on poor old Thaksin, and will allow him to stay in Cambodia. This didn’t sit very well with the Thai government, understandably. But this gets even better. Thaksin is now an economic advisor to the Cambodian government.
Can you imagine George Bush becoming advisor to the government of Iran? Rather difficult.
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But this is exactly what’s happening over here. We don’t hear a lot about it, but you can rest assured that this does not exactly help to ease the tension between our two countries. Practically everything that can be put on hold is put on hold. For example, an international rail link connecting China, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, and India needs a stretch of just six kilometers across the border.
It does not sit well at all with the average Thai. The newspaper abounds with letters that Thaksin committed high treason. Not by expats, but by Thais.
Thaksin said a lot of bad things about the present government. Until his defection? trip? to Cambodia, a lot of people stood behind him, as he does have a point. Right now, the “red shirts” (Thaksin supporters) are very red indeed. In the face. Thaksin lost what little credit he had left. Even among them.
Personally, I think the Abhisit government is doing pretty well. The political unrest last year threatened to divide the nation in two. By ably governing the country and letting bygones be bygones they solved that almost completely. Not a minor achievement by a government which was supposed to be caretaker only.
— H. Numan