11 July 2024

Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara said Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has chosen Cambodia for his first ASEAN trip because it is Thailand’s close neighbor but a Cambodian academic suggested that it might have to do with the close ties between former leaders of the two countries.

Yang Peou, Secretary-General of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, was quoted by the Khmer Times as saying that the trip demonstrated that the Thai leader shows that he values Cambodia as the main neighbour.

“Because Srettha Thavisin is close to Thaksin Shinawatra’s family and Thaksin is also close to the family of former Prime Minister Hun Sen, the visit will also deepen the bonds between the two leaders’ families,” Peou said.

He noted that it is unusual for a new Thai prime minister to choose Cambodia for his first visit to ASEAN member countries.

It was earlier reported that Srettha would make Laos his first overseas visit after attending the UN General Assembly. The choice of Cambodia instead came as a surprise to many.

Asked by reporters on Monday about the Cambodia trip while visiting Sakaeo, an eastern province bordering Cambodia, Parnpree said Cambodia is a close neighbour and shares common border with Thailand.

Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who is now serving a prison term after returning to Thailand in late August, is known to have close relationship with former Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen.   Thaksin and his sister Yingluck, also a former prime minister who is still in self-exile, made a surprise visit to Phnom Penh in early August to attend Hun Sen’s birthday party.

The Khmer Times quoted Cambodian academics as saying that during Srettha’s visit on Thursday, issues concerning migrant labour and illicit internet gambling will be among topics of his discussion with his Cambodian counterpart Prime Minister Hun Manet.

“The prime ministers of Cambodia and Thailand are likely to discuss labour issues, immigration, and illegal online fraud, with both sides taking joint measures to crack down on transnational crime,” said  Peou of RAC.

Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia,  said the two new prime ministers will talk about advancing their collaboration, bolstering economic, trade, security, and other concerns

“The two prime ministers will have to deal with security issues involving illegal online gambling and illegal detention, as this is happening in both countries and must be addressed jointly,” he said.

He also the two leaders are also expected to talk about “preventing or allowing outside groups from using the territory to undermine one another’s administrations,” Phea said.

Thai Foreign Minister Parnpree has said Thailand will raise the issue of online scammers who operate along the border.