The Bangkok Post reported today that the former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra offered to help the seven Thai nationals currently being detained in Cambodia. Among those arrested for trespassing in Banteay Meanchey province, a Democrat member of parliament for Bangkok, Panich Vikitsreth, told Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday that he had “unintentionally” crossed into Cambodian territory, according to his lawyer, as reported in the local media.
The border dispute between Cambodia and Thailand emerged after the Preah Vihear temple was listed as a world heritage site in 2008. However just shortly before the arrest of the seven Thais the neighboring countries had enjoyed an improved relationship. The unpredictable relationship between Cambodia and Thailand has always involved the ousted Thai prime minister, who now lives in exile.
A Cambodian court has started questioning the Thais accused of entering the country illegally. Thaksin’s offer to “mediate with Cambodia” could be a significant step for him to return to Thai politics, or at least earn sympathy from his citizens back home.