The blurb:

The Preah Vihear Temple: A Time Bomb Waiting to Explode

8 pm, Thursday, July 28, 2011
(Please see pricing and reservation procedure below)

The Preah Vihear Temple has remained a controversial subject both in Thailand and in Cambodia. The latest armed clashes between the two countries in April this year were the most serious since the conflict broke out in 2008 during the Samak Sundaravej administration.

Thailand announced its intention to withdraw from the World Heritage Convention after a meeting of the committee in Paris last month. UNESCO has said the management plan for Preah Vihear wasn’t discussed at the meeting and Thailand has yet to notify the World Heritage Committee in writing of its withdrawal from the Convention.

Most analysts have argued that the temple has for some time now served as a political tool for Thai political actors to gain some political advantage at the expense of Thai-Cambodian relations.

Cambodia has insisted on proposing its own development plan in the area surrounding the temple. Thailand says Cambodia’s plan is a breach of Thai sovereignty. While the temple legally belongs to Cambodia according to the verdict of the International Court of Justice in 1962, the two countries have claimed ownership of the 4.6 sq km area adjacent to the temple.

The speakers will discuss the intricate relationship between Thailand and Cambodia through nationalistic and regional perspectives.

The bilateral crisis is very much a political crisis in Thailand, but it has also caused an immense impact on the region. Thus, among many suggestions, the Thai government’s support for the temple listing should be understood in the context of Thailand’s expansive regional cooperation policy. The objective of bilateral cooperation on the temple was to promote cross-border tourism between Thailand and Cambodia, which subsequently led to an agreement to inscribe the temple on the World Heritage list. The negotiation and solution for the temple and its surrounding area will be the first time the two countries will attempt to settle the highly sensitive issue of territorial dispute with economic and cultural means.

Speakers:
Dr. Volker Grabowsky, Professor of Thai Language and Culture (Thai Studies) at the Asia-Africa-Institute of the University of Hamburg

Dr. Pavin Chachavalpongpun, Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, a former diplomat and the author of Reinventing Thailand: Thaksin and His Foreign Policy

Pricing Details:
Members: No cover charge, buffet dinner is 350 baht
Non-members: 300 baht cover charge without buffet dinner or 650 baht for buffet dinner including cover charge

BP: Wonder if the German professor will get non-Preah Vihear-related questions given the seizure of the plane in Munich….