Wednesday, September 14, 2011
The rumours were good, the real news is bad
At first, there were reports that Cambodia will release Veera Somkuamkid and Ratri Pipatwongpaibul from Khmer jail when Thaksin Shinawatra flies into Phnom Penh as a token of friendship from Cambodian Premier Hun Sen to the new Thai government.
Then, there were further reports that the "release" could take place sooner -- tomorrow (Sept 15) when Premier Yingluck flies in.
But it was with great disappointment that many Thais must have felt when the official word from Phnom Penh just now said that all those were unfounded rumours. Cambodia has no intention of doing so and the two Thais will have to serve at least two-thirds of their jail term before amnesty could be sought.
The two Thais were sentenced to 8 years in jail for allegedly trespassing into military sensitive areas.
So, in the end, Hun Sen, despite his nice gesture towards Thaksin and Yingluck hasn't really conceded on any point for Thailand. We haven't heard that Yingluck can get any assurances during her one-day visit tomorrow from Cambodia over the Khao Phra Vihear issue. Nor is there anything clear about whether the various border issues will get any closer to resolving some long-standing problems.
Hun Sen's brand of diplomacy is unusual in the first place. He decides whether to be nice or not with personalities not governments. He chooses to side with a political party over another in a neighbouring country openly. But then, you can't blame him. The serious conflict within Thailand has simply delivered Thailand to Hun Sen on a platter.