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Veera opposes the opening of controversial new casino on border

Apr 08. 2017
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ANTI-CORRUPTION activist Veera Somkwamkid yesterday maintained his opposition to the new casino, which opened yesterday, as it allegedly sits on overlapping territory bordering Thailand and Cambodia near Buri Ram province.

He said his stance was aimed at safeguarding any future move by Cambodia to petition the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

“I wish to oppose what happened [the opening of the casino on the overlapping territory], and if Cambodia petitions the [ICJ) court, I, as a Thai citizen, wish to show my objection here even though the government doesn’t,” said Veera.

Thailand and Cambodia had a similar row over the Preah Vihear Temple, a World Heritage Site, but the ICJ ruled that the temple belonged to Cambodia as Thailand had never objected to its claims, resulting in the country losing the case. Veera has been among nationalists in recent years trying to revive the case in the court, but to no avail.

A few weeks ago, he went to check on the new casino and learned that it would be sited on similar overlapping territory between the two countries, and possibly encroaching on the Ta Phraya National Park, part of Dong Phaya Yen-Khao Yai World Heritage Site.

Veera questioned why the military government had allowed this to happen.

The casino is reported to be situated close to the Chong Sai Takoo border checkpoint in Buri Ram where former politician Newin Chidchob, now a football-club owner, is known to be influential.

Newin took offence to the insinuation and filed a complaint with the police seeking charges against the Facebook account owner, apparently Veera, for posts that he claimed had implicated him of involvement with the casino. In a bid to prove his point, Veera planned to take a group of media personnel to the site, but was blocked by locals who feared his visit could affect their trade.

Veera said he had received some evidence on who had backed the casino and he would investigate it despite threats to his life.

The casino was opened yesterday, and many high-profile guests were invited. However, hundreds of visitors from outside the province were barred from joining the opening ceremony. No clear reason was given by security officers for keeping them out.


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