News / Asia

Conflict and Controversy Overshadow Unity at ASEAN Summit

Heads of states and governments of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations pose for a group shot during the opening ceremony of the 18th ASEAN Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia, May 7, 2011
Heads of states and governments of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations pose for a group shot during the opening ceremony of the 18th ASEAN Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia, May 7, 2011
Brian Padden

The prime ministers of Cambodia and Thailand exchanged heated words over their border conflict at the ASEAN summit and Burma received an endorsement in principle to head the organization in 2014, despite its poor human-rights record.   

Since February, nearly 30 people have been killed and thousands displaced in both Thailand and Cambodia because of ongoing military clashes between the two countries over a border area near a historic temple.

Sunday, the leaders of Thailand and Cambodia held separate news conferences after trading accusations earlier at the ASEAN Summit about which country is responsible for the conflict.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said it was Cambodia that began this conflict by stationing troops in the disputed area in violation of a bilateral agreement both signed in 2000, and he says they have prolonged the conflict by trying to get international organizations involved.

"But the problems that have occurred in recent times I think demonstrate the determination of Cambodia to internationalize the issue," Vejjajiva said.

He says Thailand and Cambodia should resolve the conflict without the intervention of the United Nations or the International Court of Justice, and while Thailand agreed Friday to allow in Indonesian observers to the conflict area, he says, that agreement should be linked to the removal of both Cambodian and Thai troops from the disputed region as well.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Thailand must formally agree to allow in Indonesian observers before further negotiations could continue.  He also rejected Thailand's demand Cambodia withdraw its military from the conflict area.

He says the withdrawal of Cambodia armed forces from their territory is not acceptable.

At the end of a two day ASEAN Summit in Jakarta that was supposed to be about trade and economic development in the region, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono met with the leaders of Thailand and Cambodia to try to resolve the border conflict between them.

He said he offered to get everyone to agree to create a package of solutions, so both sides can agree to the same timeline.

The Thai and Cambodian prime ministers agreed to extend the foreign ministers' time in Jakarta to further discuss these issues. Both will meet Monday with ASEAN Chairman and Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa.

Other ASEAN leaders expressed frustration the armed dispute between members was threatening the organization's credibility and taking away from achievements made at the summit on regional economic integration.  

ASEAN Leaders also approved in principle Burma's request to take over the organization chair in 2014.  President Yudhoyono said ASEAN's approval of Burma's request is contingent on that country making continued democratic progress.

Human-rights groups voiced objections to Burma's bid. Military led Burma is under Western sanctions for serial human-rights abuses.   

In 2005 Burma was pressured to give up the leadership of ASEAN after the United States and the European Union threatened to boycott the organization. ASEAN groups Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, Philippines and Burma.  

Other issues discussed at the summit include food and energy security, territorial disputes in the South China Sea, human trafficking, and East Timor's membership bid.

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid