The construction by the Thai military of a miniature replica of the Preah Vihear temple complex has been met with consternation by the government.
The 1/10th scale reproduction of the temple was constructed by the Thai army’s 23rd Ranger Regiment and Suranari Task Force on a 600-square-metre plot facing the original from the Thai side of the border.
Former 23rd Ranger Regiment chief Colonel Thanasak Mitraphanont yesterday told the Bangkok Post that the mini Preah Vihear was intended to show the Cambodian government that Thailand is ready to jointly develop the original, which has been the subject of a decades-long border dispute that escalated into military skirmishes between 2008 and 2011.
However, Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan was unimpressed yesterday, likening the tiny temple to a private firm’s controversial plan to construct an Angkor Wat replica in India’s Bihar state, which Cambodia successfully petitioned the Indian government to thwart.
“The purpose of this business is against the principles of civilised nations,” Siphan said, adding that any joint development will have to wait until outstanding border issues have been resolved. “We need to see demarcation and border posts placed before any activity related to joint development can take place.”
He also shot down long-standing Thai hopes of an entrance direct from Thailand to the temple complex. “We explained to them a number of times already, that a gate directly from the Thai side . . . is not feasible,” he said.