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Was it a right move?

Local news discussions are still dominated by relations with Cambodia. There are plenty of opinion pieces, editorials, analysis and so on.

I think at this point it’s a waste of time to count the dollars and export-import figures, or troops, airplanes and naval forces.

The basic, bottom line is that Hun Sen’s provocation will not be allowed to go on indefinitely. That’s just not how countries behave in Asean. There’s no question of two Asean countries going into war, politically or economically or let alone military.

It’s not a territorial spat anymore, it’s not water supplies spat like between Malaysia and Singapore, it’s not mistreatment of domestic help like in Indonesian cases. There’s absolutely no reason for Hun Sen to use Thaksin’s services as an economic advisor. It doesn’t do any good to Cambodia’s strategic interests and Hun Sen is being completely irrational and unpredictable.

Once the nationalistic fervor subsides Cambodians will surely notice that they haven’t got any benefits out of this spat. The Preah Vihear temple will remain closed, border trade will suffer, and gas exploration in the Gulf will be an impossible prospect. All in exchange for what? A lousy lecture by Thaksin?

Abhisit is playing it pretty cool – we haven’t started it, the ball is in Cambodian court, and we even have no clue what game exactly they are trying to play.

Personally I think withdrawing the ambassador was the right decision. Simply handing out a note of protest would seem too weak, as Thailand’s position on the matter is already known.

Opinion polls show very high approvals for Abhisit’s action. Perhaps people welcome his decisiveness, for a change. One of Nation’s commentators wrote a while ago that in working environment Abhisit is not the one to be pushed over. He personally took the bull by the horns to contain Songkran riots, he steamrolled a few opposition demands in cabinet meetings and one of the ministers was reduced to tears, then he insisted in his choice of police chief despite going against some very powerful “invisible hands”, allegedly residing in Germany.

Now the people saw it with their own eyes and they liked the new Abhisit. Good news for Democrats on all fronts.


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