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Pitak Siam backs UFPTP in temple protest

The Pitak Siam group will support the United Front of Patriotic Thais for the Protection of Thai Territory (UFPTP) by giving the list of its 80,000 supporters to be used by the latter for their campaign over the Preah Vihear dispute, General Boonlert Kaewprasit said yesterday.



The UFPTP will today rally at the Royal Plaza to campaign against the Preah Vihear case. Boonlert said the Pitak Siam group would not join the rally but would support it by giving the list of its supporters to stage any move.

Sompong Sucharitkul, former lawyer of the Preah Vihear case in 1962, said he disapproved of the move to withdraw Thailand from membership of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), saying the country had the right to object the court's decision so it should continue to fight the case.

He dismissed as inappropriate, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Towichakchaikul's comment that Thailand would only draw a tie or lose in the case, saying that Surapong's speculation could constitute contempt of court.

Boonlert denied reports that he accepted money from ex-pm Thaksin Shinawatra to dissolve the rally on November 24. He said he was worried about the safety of protesters and did not believe the rally was a total failure.

Surapong said the government would not accept demands from the UFPTP not to fight the Preah Vihear case in the ICJ court, since the country would lose opportunities to defend itself.

"We will not accept the court's authority but we will fight the case in the court to defend ourselves for whatever demands it makes. If the court makes any ruling and we do not abide by the decision, we could meet with action from the United Nations - such as an economic sanction - or we might have to fight against the UN forces or the Cambodian forces. We do not gain anything if this is the case," he said.

Surapong said as long as the rally by the UFPTP is within the democratic frame and does not cause any trouble, the government can accept its protest, otherwise it will have to rein in the protesters.

He said the Foreign Ministry had made a documentary to help the public understand the dispute. Seminars have been organized to discuss the issue. Provincial governors had been instructed to tell local leaders to explain the issue to locals. Leaflets would be distributed to create better understanding of the issue, including information to be disseminated in websites during the next eight months.

Asked why the government does not settle the case with Cambodia by using its good rapport and strong ties with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Suprapong said Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra discussed these issues with Hun Sen whenever she met him. He said the government would do its best and hoped that after the court rules on the case, there would not be any conflict between the two countries.


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