Parliament postpones debate on JBC minutes

Five-hour meeting fails to reach conclusion

Parliament has postponed its deliberation of the minutes from the Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission meetings until this coming Tuesday, after a five-hour debate yesterday failed to reach any conclusion.

The government has asked parliament to endorse three documents from previous JBC meetings between Thailand and Cambodia.

Section 190 of the constitution requires that any crucial binding international treaty must be endorsed by parliament.

The government asked parliament to back the minutes in order to pave the way for further demarcation talks between the two countries.

A joint sitting of the parliament deliberated the three minutes yesterday.

It could not convene in the morning as planned as it lacked a quorum.

Parliament reconvened in the afternoon. But after debating for five hours, with no conclusion reached, it decided to postpone the matter until Tuesday.

Before the meeting was adjourned, Rosana Tositrakul, a Bangkok senator, questioned why the government seemed to be in such a rush to seek endorsement of the minutes.

She suggested it leave the issue to the next government.

She also expressed her concern that parliament’s endorsement of the three minutes might prompt Thailand to lose part of its territory to Cambodia.

“If our voting today leads to the loss of our territory in the future, how could we explain it to our children?

“The House is about to be dissolved and a general election called. Why don’t we let the next government take care of this issue. “The government should withdraw this motion and allow more time for the study of it,” said Ms Rosana.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told parliament that endorsement of the three JBC minutes would not cause Thailand to lose any territory to Cambodia.

Mr Abhisit denied that the government had sought endorsement of the JBC minutes in any kind of hurry. He said they were drafted back in 2008 and 2009. The government did not seek endorsement of the minutes right after the meetings.

On suggestions that the matter be left for the next government, Mr Abhisit said Cambodia has tried to turn Thai-Cambodian bilateral disputes into international disputes, which was wrong.

Cambodia had also tried to gain an edge over Thailand at World Heritage Committee meetings about the Preah Vihear temple _ the disputed temple on the border between the two nations _ but its efforts had not succeeded.

The international community recognised bilateral mechanisms between the two countries for solving disputes _ memorandums of understanding, and the JBC, he said.

“If we did not do anything and allowed Cambodia to claim that Thailand has not sincerely tried to hold talks through bilateral mechanisms, could you guarantee that in the future international organisations would not intervene in disputes between Thailand and Cambodia?” Mr Abhisit said.

The yellow shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) yesterday declined to move its rally to parliament to oppose parliament’s deliberation of the minutes as it had previously threatened, claiming its campaign from the Makkhawan Bridge, where it gathers normally, has already yielded good results.

PAD spokesman Parnthep Pourpongpan said the movement had earlier submitted a letter to parliamentarians to express opposition to any approval of the JBC documents. Some MPs who disagreed with the documents opted not to attend parliament’s meeting.

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