Sunday, January 27, 2013

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra chairs a meeting of military top brass and senior security officials at Government House Friday as Thailand prepares for oral hearings at the International Court of Justice over its territorial dispute with Cambodia. CHANAT KATANYU

Army chief vows talks regardless of ICJ ruling

27 Jan 2013
Bangkok Post

Negotiations will be pursued no matter how the International Court of Justice (ICJ) rules on the territorial dispute with Cambodia over the Preah Vihear temple, army commander Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha says.
But he added that the army is prepared to use force as a last resort.
Gen Prayuth's remarks came as Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday chaired a meeting with top military brass and the government's lawyers to form its strategy ahead of the hearings at the ICJ over the disputed land surrounding Preah Vihear.
Phnom Penh has asked the ICJ to reinterpret its 1962 judgement which awarded the temple to Cambodia. The ruling, however, did not mention an area of 4.6 square kilometres surrounding the temple that both countries claim.

Oral hearings are set to take place on April 15-19 and a verdict is expected in October.
Gen Prayuth said that no matter what the ICJ rules, negotiations with Cambodia will be pursued. "We have procedures to follow if border clashes occur," he said. "But at the end of the day, [the dispute] will be concluded at the negotiating table.
"Going to war is not an option. In the disputed area we have to comply with the rules," he said. "If there is a breach of the rules, the proper action is to protest."
He said it is the government's job to prepare for the upcoming legal battle and to consider its course of action once the court's verdict is issued.
The government, however, said it is confident in its legal argument ahead of the April hearings. The line of the arguments will focus on the ICJ's 1962 ruling.
Nattawut Pothisaro, a deputy permanent secretary at the Foreign Ministry, said the meeting made some suggestions for arguments that would be used during the hearings.
The legal team is led by Thai ambassador to the Hague, Veerachai Palasai.
"After listening to Mr Veerachai, everyone is confident and believes we're on the right track," Mr Nattawut said.
He said the 1962 ruling made three key points: the Preah Vihear temple belongs to Cambodia; Thailand is requested to withdraw its troops from the temple and the surrounding area; and Thailand is requested to return artefacts to Cambodia.
"The ICJ never ruled on the [surrounding] territory," Mr Nattawut said. "The legal team will show the court it can't make interpretations beyond the focus of its original ruling."
The preparations for the oral hearings are nearly finished pending a review of some of the details, he said.
Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Phongthep Thepkanchana will lead the legal team to London on Feb 8-9 to meet with foreign legal experts to prepare for the case.
Mr Nattawut said another meeting will take place after Mr Phongthep returns from London.
He said that while the Foreign Ministry is responsible for maintaining diplomatic ties, the military would keep an eye on the border to protect national sovereignty.
He said that both countries would soon start clearing landmines from the demilitarised zone in line with an ICJ order.
Meanwhile, the war of words between Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul and Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva continued yesterday.
Mr Surapong was criticised by the Democrat leader for being a mouthpiece for the Cambodian government. He had read a statement by the Cambodian government that was critical of the Democrats.
"The Democrat Party should stop lying," Mr Surapong said.
"If it has evidence to prove the alleged conflict of interest, just bring it forward. It is the last time that I will talk about this. I will focus my efforts on the ICJ case," he said.
He added that he read the statement to rebut the Democrat Party's accusations against the Yingluck government and former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Mr Surapong blamed the previous Democrat-led government for causing the legal dispute.
He said the Thai ambassador to Phnom Penh told him that Cambodia's petition to the ICJ was forced by the Abhisit government's actions.
Mr Abhisit yesterday called on Ms Yingluck to do more to protect the country's sovereignty instead of focusing on his dispute with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Senior Chinese planning official Zhang Xiaoqiang, at Davos, Swizerland on 25 January 2007. China's leadership will focus on modernising the country before it increases Beijing's role in international affairs, the official told the Davos forum

By Danny Kemp | AFP News – 01/26/2013

China's new leadership will focus on modernising the country before it increases Beijing's role in international affairs, a top official told the Davos forum on Saturday.
Senior Chinese planning official Zhang Xiaoqiang told economic and business leaders gathered in the Swiss ski resort that the whole world would benefit if China completed its development programme.
"I think that the new leader of the Chinese government and the Communist Party has emphasised the strategic agenda for China in the future is to realise the modernisation of China," Zhang told the World Economic Forum.
"And of course for the largest developing country itself, modernisation must be a great contribution for the human beings' progress and development," said Zhang, a deputy director of China's National Development and Reform Commission.

Zhang was taking part in a panel at the annual World Economic Forum that discussed China's future global agenda, with other members including former British prime minister Gordon Brown and ex-Australian premier Kevin Rudd.
China's once-in-a-decade leadership transition is due to take place at a key congress in March, after the Communist Party in November chose current Vice President Xi Jinping to take over the reins from current President Hu Jintao.
Brown, British premier from 2007-2010 and now a UN special education envoy, argued that China should take a more prominent role in global affairs given that it would soon become the largest economy in the world.
"China should now want to play its rightful role in what is not a unipolar world any more but a multi-polar world," he said. He added that the world economy was growing "far slower" than it should because of a lack of cooperation.
But Zhang said China was already playing a global role, and urged patience.
"In fact China already takes a lot of efforts in many global challenges, such as dealing with the international financial crisis, the government changes, food security," he told the forum.
Zhang said his nation would "continue to play an important role as a responsible developing country" and wanted to "build up more global development partnership."
"Particularly we first want to promote the common development within the developing countries, but this also will contribute a lot to the whole world's peace, progress and prosperity," he said.
International analysts widely expect China's fast-growing economy to overtake the United States in terms of gross domestic product, or total size, some time in the first half of this century.
But they also see the United States as likely to remain wealthier on a per capita basis given China's huge population of 1.3 billion, while that of the US currently stands at about 315 million.
Rudd, a Mandarin speaker who was Australia's prime minister from 2007 to 2010, warned however of an arms race in Asia fuelled by increasingly nationalistic territorial disputes in China's backyard.
"Economic globalisation does not, as a matter of inevitable mathematical logic, extinguish political nationalism," said Rudd.
"In our part of the world where you've got the biggest arms race unfolding in recent global history, that's the Asian hemisphere, there are important other factors which we need to respect."
Meanwhile Brown -- who was introduced to the Davos audience as having led a G20 summit in 2008 that "saved the world from the brink of financial meltdown" -- warned that lessons had not been learned from the global debt crisis.
"I think we will have financial crises on a regular basis over the next 30 or 40 years," he said.
Fri, Jan 25, 2013

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP)Cambodia on Friday reported three new human cases of bird flu, two of them fatal, in the first three weeks of this year. That's as many cases as the Southeast Asian country reported in all of 2012.
The cases are among the first reported in 2013 for the virulent H5N1 virus, which the World Health Organization says has killed 360 other people worldwide since surfacing in 2003.
WHO and Cambodia's health ministry announced that a 15-year-old girl in a village in southeastern Takeo province and a 35-year-old man in central Kampong Speu province died after being hospitalized with H5N1, better known as bird flu. An 8-month-old boy in the capital, Phnom Penh, was treated and survived.

Cambodia reported three cases last year, all of them fatal. Since 2005, it has recorded 21 cases, 19 of them fatal.
The disease remains hard for people to catch, but experts fear it could mutate into a more deadly form that spreads easily from person to person. So far, most human cases have been linked to contact with infected poultry.
On Wednesday, international scientists who last year halted controversial research with the deadly bird flu virus said they were resuming their work as countries adopt new rules to ensure safety.
An outcry had erupted when two labs — in the Netherlands and the U.S. — reported they had created easier-to-spread versions of bird flu. Amid fierce debate about the oversight of such research and whether it might aid terrorists, those scientists voluntarily halted further work last January.
Those scientists announced Wednesday they were ending their moratorium now that health authorities have had time to determine how they will oversee high-stakes research involving dangerous germs. Several countries have already issued new rules.
In letters published in the journals Science and Nature this week, scientists wrote that those who meet their country's requirements have a responsibility to resume studying how the bird flu might mutate to become a bigger threat.
Myanmar opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi, pictured on July 6, 2011, has voiced confidence that the country's powerful military will support changes to the constitution that would allow her to become president

26 Jan 2013
By Shaun Tandon | AFP News

Myanmar opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi has voiced confidence that the country's powerful military will support changes to the constitution that would allow her to become president.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner, who spent most of two decades under house arrest until recent reforms, said she was hopeful that parliament will approve constitutional revisions even though the army controls a vital number of seats.
"I am not unduly worried by it. I think that the members of our military, like the rest of our nation, would like to see Burma a happier, stronger, more harmonious country," she said, referring to Myanmar by its former name.
"Because of that, I do not rule out the possibility of amendment through negotiated compromise," Suu Kyi said Friday at the East-West Center on a visit to the US Pacific state of Hawaii.

President Thein Sein, a former general, surprised even critics by launching a slew of reforms after taking office in 2011 -- including freeing political prisoners, easing censorship and permitting Suu Kyi to enter parliament.
Thein Sein has said he would accept Suu Kyi as president if her National League for Democracy wins the next elections in 2015, but some activists question whether hardliners would be willing to let the army leave power.
Under the 2008 constitution, the presidency cannot be held by anyone whose spouse or children hold foreign nationality. Suu Kyi was married to the late British academic Michael Aris, with whom she has two children.
"I do not think it is right for any constitution to be written with anybody in mind -- whether it is written to keep anybody in office for life, or whether it is written with the intention of keeping anybody out of office for life," said Suu Kyi, who has previously voiced willingness to be president.
"It's just not acceptable, it's not democratic, and it's not what a constitution is all about," she said.
Suu Kyi enjoys respect among some officers, as her father Aung San created the army and led the struggle against British colonial rule.
Suu Kyi also hoped to amend the constitution to recognize the "aspirations" of minorities. Fighting has persisted between the Burman-dominated army and ethnic rebels despite calls by Thein Sein for reconciliation.
"Unless we can meet those aspirations, we can never hope to build a true and lasting union based on peace and harmony," she said.
Suu Kyi was visiting Hawaii as part of an initiative by the US state to share its values. In a scene that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, Suu Kyi spoke fondly about dining with friends on Honolulu's sun-kissed Waikiki beach.
Suu Kyi has toured Europe and North America since her release from house arrest. US President Barack Obama paid a landmark visit to Myanmar in November, hoping to encouraging reforms.
Myanmar's foreign ministry on Saturday criticized the United States for raising concerns over unabated fighting in northern Kachin state, where tens of thousands of people have been displaced since June 2011.
The statement also said Myanmar "strongly objects" to the use of the name Burma by the United States, urging the two nations to avoid actions that could go against "mutual respect."
But Suu Kyi vigorously defended calling her country Burma in English, saying that the name Myanmar was imposed by the military leadership.
"The assertion that we have to get rid of the name because it was a colonial legacy I find narrow, and I think it reflects lack of self-confidence rather than anything else," she said.
Suu Kyi noted that Japan, China, India, Indonesia and the Philippines also used names that were legacies from foreigners.
"It's not the name that makes the country; it's the country that makes the name," she said.