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Thai Court rules FM in breach of constitution

By Xinhua,

Bangkok : Thailand’s Constitution Court ruled Tuesday that Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama violated the Constitution by signing a joint communique with Cambodia concerning the latter’s bid to list Preah Vihear temple as World Heritage Site without parliamentary endorsement.

A nine-judge panel voted 8-1 to rule that the Thai-Cambodian Joint Communique signed by Noppadon and Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An on June 18 is regarded as an international treaty under the Constitution’s Article 190 and needed parliamentary endorsement prior to any signing, according to Thai News Agency.

Article 190 stipulates that any treaty which affect the social and economic benefits of Thailand as well as the integrity of Thai borders to be subject to parliamentary scrutiny before signing.

The joint communique stated Thai government’s support to Cambodia’s bid to list the temple as a World Heritage Site, followed a cabinet resolution one day earlier that endorsed a new map of the temple prepared by Cambodia.

The court’s decision came just one day after the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization( UNESCO) World Heritage Committee approved Cambodia’s application to list the centuries-old Khmer-style Hindu temple as a World Heritage site at a meeting in Quebec, Canada, on Monday.

Thailand’s national World Heritage Committee chairman Pongpol Adireksan, present at the meeting as an observer, said the temple listing would not affect on the border demarcation between Thailand and Cambodia.

The temple issue has triggered a hot debate in Thailand amid a political campaign of the opposition Democrat party and the civil anti-government coalition People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) denouncing the four-month-old government led by prime minister Samak Sundaravej.

The Phnom Penh temple, with a history of more than 10 centuries, has long been an issue of dispute between the two countries, both having historically claimed ownership.

The International Court of Justice in 1962 ruled that the temple belonged to Cambodia, but the only practical access by land to the temple, which stands atop a cliff, remains to be from the Thai side of the border in Thailand’s northeastern province Si Sa Ket.

Both Samak and Noppadon faced heavy criticism for endorsing Thailand’s support for Cambodia’s bid, as opponents said that it could undermine Thailand’s national interest in future border demarcation in overlapping areas near the Preah Vihear temple.

Noppadon left for Quebec on Saturday to explain to the World Heritage Committee about Thai government’s withdrawal of support for Cambodia’s bid, after Thailand’s Administrative Court on June 28 issued an injunction ordering suspension of government moves to endorse support at a petition by the PAD.