Key officials will gather on Friday for talks on tactics in preparation for the final battle with Cambodia in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over ownership of the disputed border land surrounding Preah Vihear Temple.
Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat said on Tuesday that the talks will discuss strategy and tactics to counter and defeat the Cambodian claim in the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
“We have to build up our people’s confidence. We have to go there confident that we won’t lose this case. Whatever will happen there is another matter,” ACM Sukumpol said.
The ICJ ruling is expected to come out about six months after Thailand and Cambodia go before the court in the Hague, in the Netherlands, to make their oral presentations from April 15-19. Thailand and Cambodia have already submitted their written arguments to the ICJ.
The government will explain further at a press conference after the Friday meeting to ensure the public has a better understanding about the progress in the matter and the approach Thailand is taking to the case, he said.
Those attending the Friday meeting will include the prime minister, the commanders of all armed forces, the police chief and a team of legal experts led by Thai ambassador to the Netherlands Virachai Plasai.
Phnom Penh has asked the court to decide whether its ruling in 1962 includes the 4.6 square kilometres of disputed land immediately around the old Khmer Hindu temple ruins. The court ruled at the time that Preah Vihear temple was under Cambodian ownership.
Concerns about the court fight have risen since Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul last month admitted to the possibility Thailand may lose the case to Cambodia.
His remarks drew criticism from officials and some cabinet ministers and stirred nationalistic anger among members of the Thai Patriots Network, who demanded the government reject the ICJ ruling if it is unfavourable.
The network held a rally in Bangkok on Monday and vowed to collect 1.3 million signatures to put pressure on the government to bow to their call. A series of protests were planned for the future, the network said.
ACM Sukumpol hoped that the network’s rallies would not disrupt ties with Cambodia, saying he believed Phnom Penh would understand the situation in Thailand and that the public has a right to air their opinions.
Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha has already called on the public not to over react.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has, meanwhile, launched a verbal broadside against opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, accusing the opposition party of linking with Thai nationalists and trying to use Cambodia merely to score political points.
Hun Sen charged that the Democrat Party “shares political views with the protesters” and was trying to make political capital with charges that Cambodia had made deals with former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra over disputed territorial waters in the Gulf of Thailand, according to the Phnom Penh Post.
“Today, I would like Abhisit to bring up evidence. But if there is no evidence, don’t rally to cheat more than 60 million Thai people, (and) 14 million Cambodian people,” the Cambodian premier said in the report.
According to Hun Sen, Mr Abhisit and his government in 2011 accused Cambodia and Thaksin of having “secret interests”, and that Cambodia denied such deals at that time.
“The Thai people are [still] not aware that the Abhisit government tried to talk with Cambodia secretly about that issue,” said the Cambodian premier.