Sept 22, 2011
Thai-Cambodian relations are likely to improve significantly following PM Yingluck Shinawatra's visit to Phnom Penh last week.
Cambodian PM Hun Sen arranged a red carpet welcome for his Thai counterpart. A long line of students and adults waving Thai national flags greeted Ms Yingluck as her motorcade made its way from the airport to the capital city. A new era of closer Thai-Cambodian cooperation has begun, with both countries pledging to implement development projects for mutual benefit. The two premiers agreed that both sides will abide by the World Court's ruling on the Preah Vihear Temple dispute, while gas and oil drilling in the overlapping maritime boundaries will be handled by the committee responsible for the issue.
These developments should not be interpreted as a weakening of Thailand's position. The government must protect Thailand's interests in both the Preah Vihear issue and the overlapping maritime boundary. It is natural that critics of the Pheu Thai-led administration are calling for greater transparency. This is because ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra is an economic adviser to PM Hun Sen. Ms Yingluck must be careful in her dealings, particularly when national interests are at stake. She must prove that her decisions are based solely on the interests of the country. The goodwill she has gained from visiting Cambodia is a positive change for both countries.