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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Thai PM: Cambodian court's verdict no effect on border dispute

Recent verdict by a Cambodian court finding five Thais guilty of illegal entry into the neighboring country will have no implication on ongoing negotiations to settle border disputes between the two nations.

On a special televised program broadcast nationwide on Sunday's evening, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said: "There has been nowhere that the Thai government has said it will accept the Cambodian court's verdict on the border demarcation."

Abhisit said the verdict will only bind the individuals or parties involved in the court case.

He said any demarcation on the common border's disputed areas will have to be worked out under the existing memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed in 2000 between Thailand and Cambodia.

Last Friday, five Thais, including Panich Vikitsreth, a Bangkok MP of Abhisit's Democrat Party, were found guilty by a court in Phnom Penh of illegal entry into Cambodia and trespassing into a military area.

Each was given nine months of imprisonment and fined one million riels (250 U.S. dollars), but the jail term is suspended.

The five returned to Bangkok on Saturday after spending almost a month in Prey Sar prison in Phnom Penh.

Abhisit said the five Thais were arrested on Dec. 29 by Cambodian soldiers when they were on the Cambodian side of a line currently being used by both countries as the "working border line ".

But the Thai premier said the line was not the demarcation under the MOU, and that his government, which has been in contact with Phnom Penh since the arrest, had never told Cambodia that the Thais were on Cambodian territory when being arrested.

He said the Thai government will need to comply with the MOU's mechanism in settling the border disputes with Cambodia as there is no other framework to do so.

Two other Thais, also being arrested with the five on Dec. 29, are still being detained in Prey Sar prison for additional charges of espionage.

They include Veera Somkwamkid - a leader of the nationalistic Thailand Patriots Network, whose supporters have been protesting in Bangkok against the Abhisit government for its mishandling of the Thai-Cambodian border disputes.

Source: Xinhua

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Receiver upbeat on helicopters NZ sale

Strong bidding interest from overseas and New Zealand for South Canterbury Finance asset Helicopters NZ has receiver Kerryn Downey optimistic of a $90 million-plus sale within three months.

Indicative bids for the Nelson company, up for sale as part of SCF's receivership process, closed last week.

Mr Downey, of McGrathNicol, said several bids had come in from local and overseas parties, including New Zealand and international helicopter operators, and he was expecting a report from Goldman Sachs, which is helping with the sale, early this week.

Helicopters NZ was ascribed a face value of $90.3m last year when it was transferred to SCF from the Allan Hubbard-controlled Southbury Corporation.

"I am reasonably certain that number, if not higher, will be the sale price," Mr Downey said. "I am very upbeat about Helicopters. Its operating performance is ahead of budget which is extremely encouraging."

He hoped to conclude the sale by March or April. A

competitive sale process is good news for the taxpayer, after the Government paid out close to $2 billion to investors and financiers under the Retail Deposit Guarantee Scheme when SCF failed last year.

Mr Downey said it was "disappointing" the company had not received Civil Aviation Authority approval to continue with a key United States military contract in Laos and Cambodia.

But the prospects were good for resolving the problem over the company's air operating certificate sooner rather than later and the Southeast Asia contract was a small, though relatively important, part of the company's overall operations, he said.

The contract, which involved working with an arm of the US Department of Defence to recover remains of servicemen missing in action, was about 10 per cent of the company's business, he said. Its main operations were in New Zealand, Australia and Antarctica.

The CAA withdrew operational approval believing it did not have the jurisdiction to cover operations in Laos and Cambodia. And just before Christmas the High Court denied the company an order to continue its air operating certificate, pending an appeal.

Mr Downey said directors had still not decided whether to appeal against the CAA decision.

Indicative bids for SCF's 80 per cent shareholding in another valuable asset, Scales Corporation, close on January 28.

The company, which has cold store, petfood, property, bulk storage and shipping operations, and is the country's biggest apple grower, is itself not for sale – only the 80 per cent shareholding.

Mr Downey is also expecting a hotly contested sale for this stake in the business.

"It is a very highly performing business with rock solid profitability. There is significant interest. The competitiveness of the process and the level of interest suggest high values there."

- The Dominion Post
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PM to inform public about arrest of seven Thais by Cambodia

BANGKOK, Jan 23 – Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva will also inform the Thai public Sunday night about the arrest of seven Thais by Cambodian soldiers on charges of trespassing onto Cambodian territory on Dec 29, he said Sunday during his weekly TV and radio address.

Five of the seven were freed by the Cambodian court and returned to their homeland Saturday evening. The court in Phnom Penh on Friday ruled them guilty of illegal entry and intentionally trespassing into Cambodian territory.

They were sentenced to nine-month suspended jail terms and fined one million riel (US$250) each. However, their jail sentences were suspended.

The two remaining detainees faced additional charges of espionage and the court is expected to hand down its verdict on Feb 1 as earlier scheduled.

Meanwhile, Mr Abhisit also said that the Cambodian sign erected at Kaew Sikha Khiri Sawara temple near the ancient Preah Vihear temple, charging Thais with being invaders, that he had consulted with Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, who confirmed that he would contact Cambodian troops to remove the sign.

There should be no problem on that, the prime minister said.

The Cambodian sign saying ‘Thais invaded this area before’ was erected in front of the temple on Dec 1 after Thai troops left the area in a bid to cool tensions centering on disputed areas along the border. (MCOT online news)
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