Sunday, January 11, 2009
Mr. Tharit Charungrat, spokesman for the Thai Foreign Ministry.
Koh Santepheap newspaper
9th January, 2009
Translated from Khmer by Khmerization
Cambodia has on the 8th of January summoned the Thai ambassador to protest over the Thai denial of entry to Thailand of 269 Cambodian passengers on board the Jupiter Cruise ship who are holders of diplomatic passports and Thai visas.
The Cambodia Daily newspaper reported by quoting Mr. Soth Sophin, chairman of the Lam and Bothers company who organised the Jupiter Cruise to Thailand as saying that the Jupiter Cruise ship left Cambodia’s Kompong Som seaport for the Thai seaports of Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket with more than 400 passengers. He added that the Thai authority barred about 269 Cambodian passengers with proper Thai visas from disembarking but allowed all the Chinese and Vietnamese passengers to disembark.
The Cambodia Daily reported that “The majority of the passengers carried Thai visas, but still the Thai authority did not allow them to enter their country (Thailand).”
Mr. Benson Samay, attorney for the Jupiter Cruise, said that most of the passengers who joined the launch of the first leg of the Jupiter Cruise are very angry with the Thai authority for not allowing them entry to Thailand.
He said: “The launch of the cruise has turned into a disaster.” Mr. Benson Samay added that the passengers include senators, military generals, judges and senior government officials who hold diplomatic passports. He added that he believe that the Thai denial of entry for the Cambodian passengers into Thailand was linked to the Preah Vihear disputes.
Mr. Tharit Charungrat, head of information and spokesman for the Thai Foreign Ministry said through an email that his ministry was unaware of the incident which took place on 25th of December, 2008. He wrote in his email: “ The Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs was unaware of the incident which took place on the 25th of December, 2008 or any discriminations by the Thai authority on the Cambodian people.” He added that it seemed that such incident did not happen.
Mr. Tharungrat’s email continued: “As a principle, the Thai immigration authority will facilitate the entry to Thailand without any discriminations against any nationality if they (tourists) have proper visas. Thailand consider Cambodia as our neighbour among other neighbours, so in a normal circumstance there is no reason for us to bar them from entering Thailand.”
Despite his defence of the actions of the Thai authority, Mr. Tharungrat said “However, the Thai authority will launch an investigation if there is a detailed diplomatic protest (from Cambodia).”
On 8th of January, the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Thai ambassador to lodge a diplomatic protest over the incident.
Mr. Ung Sean, Secretary of State of Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the Thai ambassador that Cambodia is not happy, is regrettable and cannot accept this incident and has demanded that the Thai authority investigate this incident thoroughly. The Thai ambassador did not provide prompt answers by just saying that they will make inquiry with the Thai government first before providing any answers.
Mr. Long Visalo, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told The Cambodia Daily that his department has investigated and found out that the Thai authority indeed banned the 257 Cambodian passengers who hold Thai visas from entering Thailand. He added that the reasons that the Thai authority banned the Cambodian passengers from entering into their country was because they are afraid that the Cambodians will pose security concerns to their country. He added that the Thai authority demanded the passengers to pay $1500 for the permission to enter Thai territories and this bond money can only be withdrawn after 3 months. So all the passengers refused to pay the bond money and decided to return home to Cambodia.
Mr. Long Visalo added that Cambodia has lodged a complaint regarding Thailand’s violation of the Memorandum of Understanding on a visa agreement between the two countries which stated that diplomatic and official passport holders must be exempted from carrying a visa. Furthermore, under international laws if the embassy of the country had already provided the visas to the tourists, those tourists must be allowed to enter that country without obstacle.
According to Mr. Long Visalo, there are more than 10 senior government officials travelling on board the Jupiter Cruise ship, but until now no one among the more than 10 officials has lodged a complaint to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yet.//