Thailand and Cambodia tussle over World Heritage Site Preah Vihear Temple
Antagonism between Cambodia and Thailand is intensifying in the run up to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting in Brazil this weekend, over the management of World Heritage Site Preah Vihear Temple. Led by Thai government supporters Chamlong Srimuang and Chaiwat Sinsuwongse, about 1,000 protestors arrived at UNESCO’s Bangkok office this morning to oppose Cambodia’s unilateral management plan that will be submitted during the meeting.
In 2008, UNESCO approved the Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site in Cambodia. Opposition to Cambodia’s management plan comes from a murky resolution by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 1962. While the ICJ granted the temple to Cambodia, it did not settle the ownership of a 4.6 square kilometer piece of land next to the structure.
Tul Sitthisomwong from the Thai position was quoted in the Bangkok Post as saying, "It is the right direction for the government not to accept the Cambodian-made plan until the process of the land demarcation is complete."
From January to June this year, the Preah Vihear Temple attracted 46,400 visitors. “In the future, Preah Vihear Temple will become the second-largest tourist destination after Siem Reap’s Angkor Wat -- as roads and infrastructures around the temple have been developed,” Hang Soth, director general of the Preah Vihear National Authority (PVNA), told the Phnom Penh Post.
Tul notes the necessity of the two nations to develop the World Heritage Site together, but Cambodia is not expected to let go of its sole proprietorship to the major tourist attraction easily.