RI ‘should push’ for Thai-Cambodian talks
Analysts say the Indonesian government should use the momentum of the recent Thai elections to resolve the Cambodian-Thai border dispute as Thailand was likely to negotiate with its neighbor under a new government.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Michael Tene on Tuesday said the Indonesian government congratulated Thailand for holding a successful election on Sunday — which Yingluck Shinawatra’s Puea Thai Party won by a landslide.
“The government of Indonesia is confident that Thailand will continue to make valuable contributions to the stability and prosperity of the region, including in the common endeavors on ASEAN community building,” he said, adding that bilateral relations would also be stronger than before.
Puea Thai won 265 of the 500 seats in parliament, the latest Election Commission tally showed on Tuesday, and could govern alone, but Yingluck, who will be Thailand’s first female prime minister, said she would form a five-party coalition controlling 299 seats.
Analysts said it was the right time for Indonesia, as current chair of ASEAN, to get Thailand and Cambodia to resume negotiations, and for Indonesia to place a planned observer team in border areas.
With the victory of Yingluck, the sister of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the ties between Thailand and Cambodia are expected to normalize due to Thaksin’s special relations with Phnom Penh, analysts say.
“Cambodian officials have said border conflicts surrounding old temples can be resolved [immediately with a new Thai government]. The prospect is better now than under Democrat Party rule,” University of Indonesia Southeast Asian political expert Cecep Hidayat said.
“I believe diplomacy can be more effective than gunfire [in resolving border conflicts].”
Repeated skirmishes have broken out in Cambodian-Thai border areas in the vicinity of three ancient temples — Preah Vihear, Ta Moan and Ta Krabey — claiming at least 23 lives on both sides since early this year. The skirmishes were triggered by border disputes between the two countries.
Indonesia claims the sending of an observer team is necessary to verify who precipitated the firing as the two countries accused each other of firing first.
“Indonesia should benefit from this situation,” Cecep said, when asked whether Indonesia should use the momentum of the elections to send in observers.
Southeast Asian political expert Priyambudi Sulistiyanto from the Flinder Asia Center at Flinders University in Australia, said Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa should respond quickly and begin talks with Yingluck and the Thai foreign and defense ministers once the new Thai government was formed, as part of efforts to send in an observer team.
“Otherwise, support for [the plan to send observers] could be weakened by disruptions from the former ruling party,” he said.