All Thais polled were satisfied with the International Court of Justice (ICJ)'s November 11 ruling on the disputed land next to Preah Vihear Temple, a poll by the National Institute of Development Administration (Nida) revealed yesterday.
The Nida poll, which interviewed 1,242 people nationwide from November 14-15, said that 57.6 per cent of respondents expressed moderate satisfaction of the verdict. Another 23 per cent said they were not totally satisfied with it. Another 19 per cent were very happy with the court ruling.
Regarding the question as to whether it was acceptable for Thailand to give up sovereignty of the one square kilometre piece of its land around Preah Vihear Temple, over half (57 per cent) of respondents said “no” on the grounds that it was Thailand’s territory. However, another 35 per cent said it would be acceptable because they believed it was Cambodia’s territory, or because they thought it was only a small plot of land.
The poll also indicated that 78 per cent agreed with the ICJ ruling that Thailand and Cambodia should jointly oversee and protect the Preah Vihear Temple World Heritage Site. Reasons for doing this cited by respondents included helping to prevent border conflict; a strengthening of ties between the two countries; a path to sustainable peace along the Thai-Cambodian border; and a boost in tourism for both sides. However, 16 per cent said an agreement on sharing of benefits between the two countries could lead to fresh problems between the two countries in the future.
Meanwhile, Defence Ministry permanent secretary General Nipat Thonglek urged Thais to stop criticising the ICJ verdict as this could lead to misunderstandings and prolong the spat. He said the government and national security agencies had tried to explain the matter clearly and the Thai military had already confirmed that a troop withdrawal would not take place. Therefore, all sides – including the opposition Democrats – should refrain from arguing over the issue. He urged that the government-assigned team studying the verdict should be allowed time to do so, before conclusions were drawn.
In related news, Phra Viharn National Park’s Pha Mor E-Daeng cliff overlooking Cambodia's territory, which was temporarily closed on November 4 ahead of the ICJ ruling, re-opened yesterday from 8am to 6pm and welcomed many Thai and foreign tourists. The park’s head Saksith Polsapsiri said if the border situation remained stable, the park would likely get more visitors to enjoy the cliff’s clear night skies and morning fog – covering the two countries’ forests below. Many vendors also reportedly set up stalls along Si Sa Ket’s Kantharalak district road to the cliff.