Proposal: Building Peace, Prosperity, and Mutual Understanding

through History Lesson: Historical Perspective on Thai and Cambodian

I) Introduction

The dispute between Cambodia and Thailand over Preah Vihear temple seems not to be
easily solved, even though it has been extended to the regional and international level to seek
for the solutions. This dispute first started from the disagreement between Cambodia and
Thailand on the inscription of Preah Vihear Temple as the world heritage to the military clashes
that led to casualties and the destroying of the civilian property (houses and market) to the
confrontation of the delegates of both countries in the 35th World Heritage meeting in Brazil.
It did not stop there. After the release of the result of the 35th World Heritage meeting, many
different interpretations were made and led the Thai Prime Minister to promise to use both the
diplomatic and military approach to solve the dispute. React to the Thai Prime Minister,
Cambodian government issued the letter to UN petitioning that Thai Prime Minister‘s word is
a sort of threatening to Cambodia. Then, these two countries started to make their military to
be ready to fight at the border at any time if necessary. Without any good mechanism to ease
the tension, 4-7 February marked the big scaled fighting (Cambodian government considered it
as war). The use of the heavy weapons, the cluster bombs, and the warning of the use of the air
fighting from Thai government, and the similar military respond done by Cambodian
government led to many casualties, property destruction, and the civilian evacuation from the
nearby deputed places.

However, the question can be posed: What are the real causes of the dispute? And if the
governments of both countries can solve the dispute on Preah Vihear temple at this time, can
Thailand and Cambodia make a good relationship and stop having any border disputes in the
future? The answer can be no. Actually, the recent dispute over Preah Vihear is just one of the
examples of the similar conflicts Thai and Cambodia have had. In 2003 (5 years before the
Preah Vihear conflict) Thai embassy in Phnom Penh was burned down while many business
establishment suffered from the attack and looting. This conflict happened similarly because of
the fear that the national heritage, Angkor Wat, can be taken away. In other word, the conflict
resulted from the rumor that Suwanan Khongying looked down Cambodian people and would
like to take Angkor Wat Temple, one of the Cambodian national prides, for Thailand. Therefore,
the solution cannot be provided by only the agreement from both governments to stop the


Anderson (2008). it also affects ASEAN’s vision and mission. In Cambodian and Thai national history. They should love and sacrifice for their nation and hate those who have been elaborated as the enemies/invaders/destroyers of their nation’s prosperity and harmony. in order to stimulate good relation and cooperation and mutual understanding which will bring about peace. There should be other possible root causes that are also needed to address. the economic prosperity. the Thai have been made to believe that the temple is the symbol of losing its territory to Cambodia through the pressure from the unfair French colonials. especially the 2 . it creates many negative consequences. love and hatred have been used to inculcate into the mind of people. and wellbeing in Cambodia and Thailand. and Winichakul (2005) found that the dispute actually results from the historiography of Cambodian and Thai national history constructed by the nationalists’ sentiment. the temple and its complex was annexed to Thailand after Cambodian kingdom was weak. The temple would belong to Thailand if there was no any unfair intervention from the French colonials. II) Objectives Whenever the conflict occurs. not only in term of creating the Free Trade Area but also the Socio-Cultural and Political-Security Community. if the border is closed it will not only affect the people. this study is aimed to firstly document all the historical sources related to the root causes of the repeated conflicts between Cambodia and Thailand. As it is obviously shown. French (2002). and 1946. the conflict not only brings about more hostility between the people of Cambodia and Thailand but also the burning of the Thai embassy. In contrast. the military clashes which caused the casualties. it was returned back to Cambodia during the French colonization by the Thai French treaty in 1904. the recent conflict is just one consequence resulted from not being able to learn from the history lesson that both countries have been gone through similar suffering and need to learn to understand one another in order to build peace and prosperity. Therefore. Cambodian have been made to believe that the Temple should belong to Cambodia because it was built by Cambodian king since the 11th century. As in case of Preah Vihear temple. the postponing or termination of economic activities that really have the negative impact on people’s livelihood and the prosperity of both countries. so the other proper solutions and agents can be identified and utilized. even though. Some scholars such as Kasetsiri (2003). Therefore. Additionally. 1907. political stability.conflicts.

I do believe that the expected problem will be reduced. expect that it will help provide the reasons behind the conflict and the destruction derived from conflict. this research is aimed to record all the solutions provided by different people and local and international institutions to solve the conflict on Preah Vihear and try to analyze how and why these solutions can work or cannot work. For the methodology. I believe that without any understanding of this history it will not be able to find the proper solutions. I will do the literature review based on the history books and articles. For the lecturers in history and conflict resolution. conflict. Thirdly. 3 . I graduated from the Master degree in Southeast Asian Studies from Chulalongkorn University of Thailand and was trained in the intensive Thai program of the same University for nearly one year. Secondly. Secondly. this study will be the vital tool for them to teach their students not only to understand the history but also understand and love the value of peace rather than the war or conflict that their ancestors used to wage and destroy lives of the people and the wellbeing of the society. However. this is a very difficult study since it involves with the cross-border research and historical documents that require the researcher to be qualified in both languages— Cambodian and Thai. this study is planned to provide the window to not only the two countries (Cambodia and Thailand) but also the other countries that border conflict is the source of destruction of their wellbeing and economy by documenting how much damages have been made in the context of present Cambodian and Thai conflict over Preah Vihear. IV Expected Result Since this is the first study that includes all the historical events and the root causes of the conflict between Cambodia and Thailand.historical sources that these countries have used to provoke the hatred. Thirdly. secondly. First of all. or war against one another. and on newspapers. I will have the in-depth interview with the experts in history of both countries in order to receive more information related to the conflict between Cambodia and Thailand and the comments on how to solve the problems. the books and journals written by the national and international historians. especially related to nationalism which taught in the public school of both countries. firstly. III) Methodology Actually. this study is going to use both the textual analysis and the in-depth interview with the key informants. it will be the useful lesson for the country leaders to use as the guideline to make the policy toward their neighboring countries to avoid any conflicts. I. which plays the most important role in leading their people to hate those they believe as their historical enemies. Phnom Penh: Center for Khmer Studies. (2010). Session 6. 2011). Benedict. Retrieved from February 15. Wolf. From http://news. BBC. Jan R. Cambodia King Pardons Thai Jailed for Spying on Thaksin. ( February). 2010. Retrieved from July 5. Image-Formation at a Nation’s Edge: Thai Perceptions of its Border Dispute with Cambodia-Implications for South Asia. Retrieved from January 20. February 13). from http://preahvihear. Heidelberg Papers in Southeast Asian and Comparative Politics. 2011. Preah Vihear and Oil. Nationalism in Asia. Suthep: Not All Cambodians Spies. February 14). (2009. (2011. _____________ (2011. From http://preahvihear. Historical Development of Universal Nationalism. From http://www.msu. Panaikorn. Phnom Penh: Center for Khmer Studies.bangkokpost. (2008. 52. Paul W. No publishing place. Retrieved from February “Cambodia Investigates Second Killing on Border. 28. Sisaket province. _________________(no date). Conflict of Interest Between State and Community: A Case Study of Temple of Phra Viharn. (19 December 2008). Center For Khmer Studies for Khmer Translation. Center For Khmer Studies for Khmer Translation. (20 December 2008). December 11). Bangkok Post. Geo-Politic Economic Strategy of Bordering Trade Between Thailand and Cambodia: From Bi-lateral Amity to Regional Initiatives. September 3). References Anderson. 2011. 2010. Preah Vihear News.lscac. session 6. BBC. Plotting History: the interdependent Development of Siamese and Cambodian (not date). 1-55. Brendan & Thet Sambath. No publishing place. From http://www. Bangkok Post. Retrieved from December 5. Siegfried.pdf 4 . Boonkob. & O. Poll: Thai Troops Acted Retrieved from From http://www. LSCAC 2010 Proceeding. Brady.bangkokpost.

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