Friday, November 13, 2009

Visitors to Cambodia face tighter controls

BANGKOK POST Gamblers and others crossing into Cambodia from Thailand are facing tighter controls as tensions between the two countries continue to rise.

Acting national police chief Pateep Tanprasert yesterday said he had told immigration officers on the border to be stricter in checking the papers of people crossing over.

Among those facing the tighter checks are Thai gamblers heading to casinos in Cambodia's Poi Pet township.

Tightened security was not affecting border trade yesterday.

Cambodian traders were still entering Chanthaburi to buy goods, although the price of Hom Mali rice bought by the Cambodians had risen from 18 baht a kilo to 25 baht.

Thai traders and fruit growers in Chanthaburi rallied yesterday in front of the provincial hall to call on the governor to take steps to protect them from a possible downturn in business as a result of the deterioration in relations between Thailand and Cambodia over Phnom Penh's appointment of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as an economic adviser.

It was also business as usual in Sa Kaeo, as Cambodians entered Aranyaprathet district to buy food and household items at the Rong Kluea border market.

But the number of Thai gamblers heading to Poi Pet opposite Aranyaprathet was down.

Sub Lt Charn Wongwaimethi, head of a ranger unit attached to the Sa Kaeo-based Burapa Task Force, said two Cambodian soldiers crossed the border to buy food at the Rong Kluea market.

He said the soldiers were attached to a unit with the 51st Brigade, which had set up a base near Poi Pet airport in Banteay Meanchey province, about 10 kilometres across the border from Aranyaprathet.

Sub Lt Charn said he gave the soldiers 20kg of fruit as a gesture of friendship before they crossed back into Cambodia.

However, a military intelligence source said more than 80 soldiers attached to the 51st Brigade had sneaked into Thailand and posed as workers at the Rong Kluea market to seek information on Thai movements.

Army spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the sports day the army was organising in Si Sa Ket to ease tensions between the two countries was scheduled for Nov 21, not yesterday as earlier announced.

Col Sansern said he had confused the dates.

The games will bring together Thai and Cambodian soldiers stationed near the Preah Vihear temple on the border.

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