PAD delisting call ‘unrealistic’

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Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti says the People’s Alliance for Democracy’s demand for Unesco to delist the Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site is impractical and unlikely to happen.

Mr Suwit, who leads Thailand’s negotiating team on the Preah Vihear issue, insisted the country’s position is to convince the World Heritage Committee to delay its adoption of the management plan for the temple expected to be proposed by Cambodia at the WHC meeting in Paris tomorrow.

Mr Suwit made the comment after more than 1,000 PAD supporters submitted a letter to Unesco via its office in Bangkok demanding that the WHC delist the temple as a World Heritage site.

The yellow shirt group argued that World Heritage status had led the two countries into a border conflict.

“Personally, I agree with the PAD. But I don’t think the Unesco will agree [with us] on this point,” Mr Suwit said.

“What we can do is to negotiate for a delay in the approval of the temple’s management plan written by Cambodia.”

Mr Suwit yesterday met with Adul Vichiencharoen, a former WHC chairman, to ask his advice before attending the Paris meetings which are scheduled to last for 10 days.

Thailand has insisted that the temple’s management plan should be suspended until the land demarcation issue is cleared up between the two countries.

Meanwhile, Cambodia argued that delaying the plan would compromise the integrity of the World Heritage site.

Prapan Koonmee, a PAD leader and spokesman of the Kingdom of Thailand Protection Committee (KTPC), said after a meeting with Unesco’s representatives that the cultural body agreed to submit the group’s protest letter to the WHC.

“It is clear that the inscription has been completely against Unesco’s principle of peace. Before, there were no incidents in which over 50,000 people had to be moved out of their own territory to avoid attacks from Cambodia. This happened after the temple was inscribed as a World Heritage site,” said Mr Prapan.

Parnthep Pourpongpan, a member of the KTPC, said a mere postponement of the temple management plan would not be of benefit to Thailand.

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