Border dispute with Cambodia to bring social unification or division in Thailand?

18:44, August 20, 2010      

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By Nutthathirataa Withitwinyuchon

The current border issue between Thailand and Cambodia has been more complicated by the emergence of patriotism in Thailand and the internal political game played by local politicians.

The recently frequent demonstrations against Cambodia's management plan of Preah Vihear Temple and government's resolution on the issue by Thai Patriot Network allied with People Alliance for Democracy (PAD) reflects the nationalism mood which has been lately spurred in this nation. The question posed concerns whether the rising nationalistic sentiment will further divide Thai society or finally restore unity to this divided country.

"The patriotism is now complicating the issue and intensify division in Thai society..It is more difficult to find the truth ( amidst all the information from various groups) and people choose to agree with what they believe," said Dr. Kitti Prasirtsuk, a lecturer at Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University.

Surveys shows among Thai people there are hardliners who want the government to take decisive action swiftly and moderates who want to see the border dispute being solved peacefully.

An opinion poll on the Preah Vihear Temple issue conducted across the country earlier this month by the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) revealed that 69.55 percent of 1, 133 respondents agreed that the government should, through diplomatic means and military forces, push Cambodians out of the overlapping area near the temple as it is Thai territory. And 77. 93 percent of them, who saw the issue is crucial, said the government should make it part of the national agenda.

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