Storm over a mountain-top

All the ding-donging over Preah Vihear has caught the attention of the BBC, which writes about the tussle between Cambodia and Thailand and the history of the temple.

Tranquil temple at centre of a storm
BBC, 22 May 2008

Cambodian ownership of the temple was first formally established in boundary settlements between its colonial ruler, France, and Siam, as Thailand was then known, a century ago.

A joint commission in 1904 set the border between the two countries atop the Dangrek mountain range – but its subsequent map, in 1907, put Preah Vihear in Cambodia.

In 1954, shortly after Cambodia achieved independence, Thai forces occupied the temple. In response, Cambodia took its case to the international courts.

Thai authorities argued that as the border was supposed to follow the watershed line of the mountains, the temple was theirs. They had not challenged the map, they said, because their access to the site gave them de facto control over it.

But the court ruled against Thailand and in 1962, the Thai troops withdrew.


Related Books:
Preah Vihear (River Books Guides)
The Preah Vihear case and the Sino-Indian boundary question
– The temple of Phra Viharn: A study of the Buddhist countries’ approach to international law
The Civilization of Angkor
Angkor Cities and Temples

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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