Not many people are actually aware that what originally triggered off the past weeks riots in Bangkok, was a old dispute between Thailand and Cambodia over the ancient Khmer Temple – Khao Pra Viharn. The temple is connected to the Ankor Wat temple complex in the city of Siem Riep in Cambodia, and have for many years caused problems between the two countries, as it’s located on Cambodian soil but only accessible from Thai soil. At the resent UNESCO conference in Canada, where heritage sites were to be reviewed Cambodia had nominated Khao Pra Viharn as an Cambodian heritage site. Many Thais felt and took this as a insult and asked the government to intervene and if not call it a Thai heritage then at least make it a joint Thai Cambodian heritage site, but no reaction from the government to the Viharn issue caused protests in the province of Surin at first and spread to Udon Thani and ended up in Bangkok, where it became more a political issue demanding the government to step back.
Old wine on new bottles.
The Peoples Alliance for Democracy (PAD) was already formed before the ouster of PM Thaksin in 2006, but kept a low profile during the days of the military instated government from 2006 to the new election in December 2007. As strange as it sounds the PAD did not form in to a political party and participated in the 2007 election, but instead many of the supporters backed the Democrat Party, who also until the very last minute looked to be the winner of the election, but things turned out different as the Peoples Power Party (PPP) was formed close to the election date, and eventually ended up as the undisputed winner mainly with the backing and votes fro the North-eastern part of Thailand – Isarn.
The Democrats accepted the defeat but the original core group of the PAD was not to accept the outcome, and was looking for issues confronting the government as they regarded the new government just to be puppies in the hand of the former oustered PM – Thaksin, who was still in exile in England at the time. If this was true of not is only for the new elected PM – Khun Samak, and his close allied to know but it’s a fact that just after a couple of month in charge they managed to grant Thaksin a safe return to Thailand, and many people felt this as direct insult, that Thaksin and his wife could walk free. The problem for the PAD was that they strongly opposed the new government but the actual fact was that PPP won the election with a waste majority.