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Friday, December 25, 2009

PM denies coup charge from hun sen


The government yesterday denied Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's accusation of plotting to stage a coup to topple the government in Phnom Penh.

"The Thai government will never do such a thing," Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said, and added his government had a policy to maintain good ties with neighbouring countries.

He said the Thai government would not interfere in Cambodia's internal affairs and had never criticised Cambodian politics.

Relations between Thailand and Cambodia plunged after Hun Sen appointed former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra as his adviser. The two countries downgraded diplomatic relations and there are no moves to normalise ties.

Prime Minister Abhisit turned down Indonesia's offer to mediate, saying he had already explained his side of the story to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and hoped that such an explanation could help.

However relations look unlikely to improve in the near future. Hun Sen was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying in a speech at a provincial ceremony on Thursday that he had seen a secret Thai government document outlining a plan to mount a coup.

"You have outlined bad scenarios, including preparing to wage war against Cambodia," Hun Sen said.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said Cambodia might have received incorrect information from ousted prime minister Thaksin.

Suthep insisted the Thai government had never thought of intervention in Cambodian politics and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was a champion of democracy who would never stoop to destroy the neighbouring country through other means.

The information Cambodia has received from Thaksin and opposition Pheu Thai MP Jatuporn Promphan is incorrect and it might have misled the Cambodian leader, Suthep said.

The Foreign Ministry on Thursday lodged a complaint with the police, charging key leaders of the anti-government red-shirt group with publicising confidential documents and libel following a leak of the ministry's classified document on relations between Thailand and Cambodia.

Army chief Anupong Paochinda said he did not expect any Thai people would be involved in politics in the neighbouring country.
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Thaksin popular in Cambodia, too

Cambodians living across the border from Thailand's northeastern provinces idolise ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a study shows.

The initial findings of the research conducted by National University of Singapore senior lecturer Peter Vail for the Thailand Research Fund were unveiled on Tuesday.

They show border people in Cambodia, due to their geographical proximity to Thailand, are impressed with the former prime minister and the populist policies implemented when he was in power.

"They [survey respondents] also enjoyed discussing polarised Thai domestic politics and we could see several effigies in these areas slandering Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva,'' said Mr Vail, who is also attached to the Mekong Sub-region Social Research Centre at Ubon Ratchathani University.

The northern Cambodians related to the red shirt group and found the yellow shirts were backward-looking people who wanted to steal Cambodian land and artefacts, he said, adding that they might also want to talk about Cambodian politics but they could not.

"They simply said they did not like [Cambodian Prime Minister] Hun Sen but wanted Hun Sen to introduce populist projects like Thaksin did to Thailand,'' the researcher said.

Northern Cambodians also disapproved of the Thai-Cambodian spat over Phnom Penh's campaign to list Preah Vihear as a World Heritage site.

"They just want to do business and make money,'' Mr Vail said. "They simply want better livelihoods, helped by border trade.''

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Thailand rejects Cambodian allegation of coup plot

BANGKOK — Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Friday rejected an accusation from his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen that Thailand is hatching a plot to stage a coup in the neighbouring nation.

The Cambodian premier made the allegation on Thursday as diplomatic relations between the governments sunk to a new low.

Hun Sen said he had seen a secret Thai government document outlining the plan to mount a coup, but Suthep, who is in charge of national security, said the charge was groundless.

"We have no reason to do such a thing. My government has a clear policy to maintain good relations and we don't need to resort to violence or disrupt bilateral trade," Abhisit told reporters.

"Thailand would not interfere in Cambodia's internal affairs and Thailand never criticises domestic Cambodian politics," he said.

Relations between the countries, which have fought a string of deadly gunbattles on their border since last year, plunged last month when fugitive former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra became an economic adviser to Cambodia.

Both recalled their ambassadors in November and diplomatic tensions were further raised when Phnom Penh refused to extradite Thaksin during his first visit as adviser last month.

Thaksin, who was ousted in a coup in 2006, is living abroad, mostly in Dubai, to avoid a two-year jail term for corruption handed down by a Thai court in August 2008.

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