By Supalak Ganjanakhudee
Thailand yesterday rebuffed Cambodia's use of the Annex I map, saying it could only be used to indicate Cambodia's sovereignty over the Preah Vihear Temple and that it never marked a clear boundary between the two countries.
Thai agent Virachai Plasai said Cambodia had discredited all other maps used in the hearing about the 1962 World Court judgement on the issue and insisted on sticking with the 1:200,000-scale Annex I map for its own benefit.
Thailand and Cambodia are caught in a conflict over the Preah Vihear Hindu temple. In 1962, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that the temple complex came under the sovereignty of Cambodia and ordered Thailand to withdraw its troops from the temple and its vicinity.
Now, Phnom Penh is asking the ICJ to interpret its ruling, saying the vicinity of the temple should match the pre-existing boundary in accordance with the French-made Annex I map.
Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said the operative clause in the 1962 judgement suggested that the temple and its vicinity came under the sovereignty of his country. After Wednesday’s session, Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf asked both sides to define – either in maps or graphics – the “vicinity” of Preah Vihear that they have been debating about over the past few days.
“This vicinity is defined in the Annex I map,” Hor Namhong told reporters after the session on Thursday.
He went on to say that the 1962 judgement indicated that both sides had already accepted the boundary line between the two countries.
The court requires a written reply from both sides by April 26 and expects them to provide the definition by May 3.
On Thursday, Cambodian counsel Rodman Bundy rejected the map presented by Romanian expert Alina Miron on Thailand’s behalf, saying it was misconceived.
Bundy said the map in Annex 85d, presented to the court by Miron on Wednesday, only indicated the location of the temple and was not used in the 1962 judgement. He then raised the Annex I map that was used in the court 50 years ago, saying this was the one that Cambodia was seeking an interpretation of.
Hor Namhong told reporters that Thailand had produced several maps to show to the court, when in reality the court had based its 1962 judgement on the Annex 1 map only.
Bundy also told the court that the line drawn in a Thai Cabinet resolution in 1962 had no rationale as to the temple’s vicinity nor did it have any connection to the border marked in the Annex 85d map presented by the Thai counsel.
He went on to say that Cambodia had never accepted the boundary drawn in the 1962 Thai Cabinet resolution and that unlike Thailand’s Prince Damrong in 1930, the late King Norodom Sihanouk never recognised Thai sovereignty in the territory near Preah Vihear. In fact, then-Prince Norodom protested against the resolution.
He was referring to a comment made by the Thai counsel saying that the 1930 visit to Preah Vihear by then-interior minister Prince Damrong could be regarded as a recognition of French sovereignty over the temple.