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CITU Review 3/2012

the seminar course on International Conflict and Resolution, the writer posited in defiance of the two foreign classmates, one Russian and another German. The discussion was about the causal relationship between the economic determinantsindependent variableand the territorial disputedependent variableon which the two foreign classmates deliberately persisted, i.e. the economic incentives propel the state actors to stir the territorial dispute. Even in the case of the Preah Vihear territorial dispute between Thailand and Cambodia, the two classmates resorted to it as the dispute driven by the economic incentives. This work re-examines and simultaneously counter-argues against the generalized thesis of economic determinism. Prior to the silhouette of the detailed Preah Vihear case, first, it is of the essence to succinctly elucidate the epistemology of social sciences. The social world, in accordance with Karl Popper, is non-static, rather, dynamic, moving, and transforming at every pace. In a simpler and concise epistemological sentence, the social world is not as the natural scientists lament as objectivethe epistemological methodology animated from the natural science, in contrast, it is what the social scientists label subjectivethe methodology derived upon interpretations of contexts.1 Thus, it is of absurdity to establish any universal theoretical frameworks to explain every social phenomenon. The duty of the social scientists is to contextualize the phenomena instead of theorize any panacea theory. Henceforth, in the case of the Preah Vihear territorial dispute, the economic determinism thesis may be of inadequacy to explain the conflicting phenomenon. Here, in contrast to the mere economic determinism thesis, the cultural Marxists, one of them widely renowned as Antonio Gramsci, exhort the cultural elements into the Marxists
1 See how Karl Popper critiqued the traditional Marxists whose objective methodology animated the positivist natural scientists methodology by assuming that the social world is static, repetitive, and stationary in Karl R. Popper, Prediction and Prophecy in the Social Sciences, http://keidahl.terranhost.com/Fall/ HIS3104/Popper%20Prediction%20and%20Prophecy.pdf, Accessed 28 August 2011.

In

The Preah Vihear Territorial Dispute: Arguments from the Cultural Marxists

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CITU Review 3/2012

economic determinism theoretical framework. As Gramsci posited that institutions and practices of civil society rather than through the repressive institutions of the State, but that it is ideational persuasion rather than the threat of physical force which ensures the consent2 In other words, the hegemonic apparatuses, the concept which has been viewed by Paul Ransomethe author on the work of Gramscias the ideational persuasion, is mostly embellished as the ideologicalimplanted mechanisms to constitute consents and consciousness, while the state apparatuses physically function in the sphere of state authority and legal enforcement. Hence, the ideology that the state mechanism instills could be nothing but nationalism. Benedict Anderson proposed that states promulgate the official nationalism to craft nations.3 Nevertheless, Louis Althusser, the French Marxist, went further. Althusser depicted the states as the ideological state apparatuses (ISAs) which function to foment certain ideologies as Althusser asserted in his work: the ISAs function massively and predominantly by ideology, what unifies their diversity is precisely this functioning, insofar as the ideology by which they function is always in fact unified, despite its diversity and its contradictions,beneath the ruling ideology, which is the ideology of the ruling class.4 This crux is more or less substantial in capping the Thai politics as Pavin Chacavalpongpun, the former diplomat from Thailand questioned, Are they (the Peoples Alliance for Democracy5) really fighting to preserve the nations identity and its historical significance? Or in fact, are they fighting to preserve their political hegemony within the domesticrealm as well as in
2 Hegemonic consent, in other words, eclipses coercion as the primary means of the social control. See Antonio Gramsci: A New Introduction (Hertfordshire: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1992), pp.138-40 3 Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and the Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 2006) 4 Louis Althusser, Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses, http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/ althusser/1970/ideology.htm, Accessed 28 August 2011 5 The Peoples Alliance for Democracy is a middle-upper class social movement which has stirred up the issues of Preah Vihear temple within Thailand for many years. Their claims are simply to protect the territorial integrity, regardless of any economic depravity.

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CITU Review 3/2012

the domain of foreign relations?6 The school textbooks primary theme is royal-nationalist7 ideology. The official Thai history outlines the famished Western imperialists in yearning to acquire the sacred Siam8s territorial integrity. Drawing on the Foucauldian-based genealogical work9 of the Thai leading historian, Thongchai Winichakul, he argued that Chat or nation meant the birthplace, prior to the Siamese nation-state system. Thongchai also discovered that, Formerly, to talk about a country, a governed spatial unit, the term was either Muang or Banmuang, literally town or village-town.10 The advent of the nation-state, according to Thongchais findings, incurred the semiological conjunction in which the power and values imbued in the terms Banmuang and Chatcommon origin, cultural commonality, soil, and royal sanctity.11Since then, from the undervalued territory prior to the advent of the nation-state to the overvalued territory following the crafting of the nation-state, mingling with Luang Wichitwathakans12 discourse on the territorial sacredness, the Thais become hysteria on the territorial issues. Furthermore, in the Thai state official history version, Cambodia has always been labeled as an ungrateful entity, i.e. a traitor to the Kingdom of Thailand. A similar fashion is Burma which has been lambasted by the Thai official history as an insidious thug whose existence has always been perilous to every Thai king.

6 Pavin Chachavalpongpun, Glorifying the Inglorious Past: Historical Overhangs in Thai-Cambodian Relations, http://www.jpi.or.kr/board/run/download.php?board_id=jpiworld&page=3&row_per_page=15&page_ per_block=10&pds_uid=2569, p. 12, Accessed 28 August 2011. 7 The history emphasizes on the great man theory, which describes the royal family as a national savior. 8 Siam refers to the former name of Thailand. 9 This Foucauldian approach deals with the exposition of the ontology. In a very simple definition, the approach seeks to divulge the discourse to which people believe its natural. 10 Thongchai Winichakul, Siam Mapped: A History of the Geo-Body of a Nation (Chiangmai: Silkworm Books, 1995), pp.133-4 11 Winichakul, p.134 12 Luang Wichitwathakan was the most influential creator of the cultural works in Thailandan exponent of the powerful nationalist historiography, a novelists of many historical fictions, and a well-known composer of many militaristic songs.

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CITU Review 3/2012

Image 1 : From http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_cwlp7_33yi8/TU904JKkDvI/AAAAAAAABb0/ IEAj2991Rys/s400/map-preah+vihear.jpg

As in the case of Preah Vihear territorial dispute, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ruled out that the temple of Preah Vihear belongs to Cambodia in 1962. Even the ICJs verdict decisively enfranchises the sovereignty over the temple to Cambodia13, the then Thai government head; Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat emotionally addressed the Thais that, with blood and tears, we shall recover PhraViharn (Preah Vihear) one day.14 Such a statement academically insinuates that the Thai state indoctrinates the nationalist sentiment to the Thais, i.e., instead of acquiescing to the ICJs carte blanche, the Thais view the verdict as unjust and being politicized by the then great powers. However, from 2008-2011, the Preah Vihear territorial dispute between Thailand and Cambodia has been lively revitalized again. This casts doubts: what incentivizes the Thais, particularly the upper-middle classes (Peoples Alliance for Democracy or PAD15), to jeopardize the economic benefits gained from normal relationship with Cambodia? 16
13 The verdict ruled by the International Court of Justice was utmost reasonable. See International Court of Justice, Summaries of Judgments and Orders: Temple of Preah Vihear (Thailand V. Cambodia), http://www. icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?p1=3&p2=2&case=45&code=ct&p3=5, Accessed 28 August 2011 14 Bunruam Tienchan, Praphat Chaleimak and Saranya Wichatham. Khrai Dai KhraiSiaKhwamKhatYaengThi Ban Plai: Prasad KhaoPhraViharn[Who Won Who Lost, The Uncontrollable Conflict: KhaoPhraViharn], (Bangkok: Animate Group Co., Ltd., 2008), p. 90. 15 PAD employed in this work tends to refer to the mass PAD not the leaders whose objective was to merely overthrow Thaksin Shinawatras affiliates. 16 From statistics, for example in tourism businesses, Thailand has annually gained 6,000 million baht since 1992 from the open door policy of Chatchai Chunhavan. See Wit Prasompluem, Kwam Sampan Thai Kumphucha: Chatiniyom KarntongTeiw Lae VitiChivit Chaidane [The Thai-Cambodia Relations:

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CITU Review 3/2012

In May 2008, Noppadol Pattama, the then minister of foreign affairs in Samak Sundaravej government17, signed the Joint Communiqu with Sok An, the Cambodia minister of foreign affairs, in purport to list the temple as the Worlds Site Heritage. In such an agreement, the unsettled border demarcation, 4.6 square kilometers18, would be mutually managed by the two states, which means two nations shared the mutual prosperity in tourism industries. Embedded with the gospel that the temple and the 4.6 square kilometers should rightfully belong to the Thai sovereignty, Noppadols decision was defamed by the PADs as treacherous. His approval was seen as the conspiracy to trade-off the piece of land in exchange for the concession for Thaksin Shinawatras businesses in the Gulf of Thailand.19 Finally, the PADs stirred the case to become cognizant throughout the nation so that the Constitutional Court of Thailand overruled the Joint Communiqu as unconstitutional.20 With the ulterior motive of the PAD leaders to overthrow Thaksins affiliates, in correspondence with the Thai Democrat Party as the opposition party in the parliament, the leaders of both cliques uniformly coalesced to intrigue the conspiracy through the ideational persuasion, as Pavin Chachavalpongpun articulated, At the same time, the PAD and the Democrat Party
Nationalism, Tourism and Border life], in FahDiewKan, Vol.6, 2008, p.21 17 The government had a invidious scandal by which is widely believed to be the nominee of Thaksin Shinawatra the premier who was ousted by the September 2006 coup. 18 The problematic land to which the conservative Thais claim to be theirs due to the Thai state renunciation of the Annex 1 map which was made in 1904, while the Cambodian state who rigidly adheres to such a map due to the ICJ adjudicated in favor of the Annex 1 Map. 19 Noppadon is the lawyer of the Shinawatra family. However, the accusation made by the PAD could not substantially be validated even today. 20 According to the 2007 Constitution of Thailand, section 190: A treaty which provides for a change in the Thai territories or the Thai external territories that Thailand has sovereign right or jurisdiction over such territories under any treaty or an international law or requires the enactment of an Act for its implementation or affects immensely to economic or social security of the country or results in the binding of trade, investment budget of the country significantly must be approved by the National Assembly. In such case, the National Assembly must complete its consideration within sixty days as from the date of receipt of such matter. i.e. the court must rule in accordance to the law. Nonetheless, ordinarily, the constitution empowers the representatives to approve any agreement due to the rationale of convenience.

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CITU Review 3/2012

refreshed indignant historical relations between Thailand and Cambodia.21 The question goes, how? According to Pavin, the PAD leaders and the Democrats aroused a sense of nationalism among the Thais. Proclaiming themselves as defenders of the Thai nation, the PAD and the Democrat Party reproached Thaksin and his cronies for their willingness to sacrifice Thai territories in exchange for personal benefits. They then connected the Preah Vihear issue to the loss of Thailands territorial integrity and the failure of the state.22 Disregarding the economic interests between Thailand and Cambodia, Sondhi Limthongkul, the PAD core leader, aroused the PAD masses by vehemently opinionating that, Our sacred mission is to protect our motherland and take back Thai territory. His might-is-right diplomatic tongue also blurted that, (Thailand should) invite Cambodia to bilateral negotiations. If the dispute cannot be settled, Thailand would mobilize Thai troops, push Cambodians back from Thai territoryand Thailand would pay any price to protect its sovereignty, even at the cost of war.23 Pavin further satirized the PADs and the Democrats bad politics as evidenced in his work: The PADs wish came true. One Thai and three Cambodian soldiers died in an exchange of rifle and rocket fire when their troops clashed on the border in October 2008 Throughout 2009-2010, such actions between the armies of the two countries have occasionally occurred, leading to a number of deaths and casualties from both sides.24 Aside from the PAD leaders and the Democrats being successful in toying with the nationalistic ideology to agglomerate the demonstrators on the street, another mental factor in explaining the utmost sentiment of the Thais and the Cambodians is incisively stated in the work of John A. Vasquez and Brandon Valeriano: It seems that states rarely go to war over tangible
21
Chachavalpongpun, p.15

22 Chachavalpongpun, p.16. Pavin Chachavalpongpin also proposed that the PAD leaders and the Democrats rendered the Khai Chat (national traitor) discourse. They, according to Pavins perspective, resurrected the Cambodians image to the Thais as a permanent adversary. 23 Prachatai.com, Sodhi Limthongkuls Solution to the Preah Vihear dispute, http://www.prachatai.com/english/ node/732, Accessed 28 August 2011 24 Chachavalpongpun, pp.17-8

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CITU Review 3/2012

territorial issues and territorial disputed solely for economic reasons; rather, they fight when the territory under question is infused with intangible qualities or is tied to ethnic factions.25 Since the advent of the Siamese/Thai nation-state, unlike the European nation-states which deleteriously struggled against one another in, what Phillip Bobbitt coined, the Epochal War and the Long War.26 Instead, Thailand became the nation-state not more than a hundred year, i.e. the experiences of the Thais in the disastrous war are of apprenticeship. Unlike the Europeans historical mentality, their fear of the devastating wars prompts them to economically integrate. Even the longfought over the territory of Alsace-Lorraine, Germany and France compromised in exchange for the mutual economic benefits in founding the European Union. Principally, the Europeans do detest the deathly squads which may occur to their citizens whereas the South East Asians do not. Why? According to Karl D. Jackson, he elaborated in his work that, After the process of decolonization, the traditional polity was transformed into what some specialists have called bureaucratic polities. Even though formal political institutions existed in theory, in reality, most of the states in Southeast Asia were ruled by small elite circles operating on the basis of patronage networks. This had the effect of institutionalizing a highly private and informal political culture. Thus, even today, a set of social etiquette exists which has its basis in indirectness and social harmony.27 Hence, no wonder why the Thais and the Cambodians have been so tempted to wage war. It is a repercussion of the bureaucratic polities, which the inner circle elites implant certain mindsets,

25 John A. Vanquez and Brandon Valeriano, Territory as a Source of Conflict and a Road to Peace, in eds., J Bercovitch, V Kremenyuk, and I.w. Zartman, The Sage Handbook of Conflict Resolution (London: Sage Publication, 2009), p.205 26 The Epochal War is the war Bobbitt coined to refer to the era which elaborated the transition from the pre modern states to the deadly struggle among the European Kings/queens whereas the Long War is the period which he alluded to the First World War up until the end of the Cold War. See. Phillip Bobbitt, the Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History (New York, Vintage Books, 2002). 27 Karl D. Jackson Bureaucratic polity: a theoretical framework for the analysis of power and communications in Indonesia, in Karl. D. Jackson and Lucien W. Pye, eds., Political Power and Communications in Indonesia. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978), 3-22.Cited in Gilian Goh, The ASEAN Way Non Intervention and ASEANs Role in Conflict Management, http://www.stanford.edu/group/sjeaa/journal3/ geasia1.pdf, Accessed 29 August 2011

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CITU Review 3/2012

i.e. nationalism and hatred history. For this cause, the masses that have always been relying on the leaders and have less political decision-makings are easily conveyed by their leaders oratorical persuasion. The solutions that the writer would like to propose could be divided into two phases, the short-term phase and the long-term phase. In the short-term phase, the policy the writer would like to propose is to proctor the Thai-Cambodian border by keeping the stalemate between the two states, for instance, halting the Joint Boundary Commission of demarcation as well as any attempt to share the interests within the area because it may instigate some chauvinists to resort to war. The interphase between short-term and long-term, Thailand should establish the relations with Cambodia in other frameworks such as in technical assistance, economic co-operation, and the likes. This strategy could urge some patriots to realize the material interests which are far more beneficial than the intangible depredation over the pieces of land which constitutes the negative-sum game. The longterm policy is to amend the national history of both nations. The historiographer should re-write the history to converge one version of the Thais with another script of the Cambodians. This would help both nations to further co-operate in the coming ASEAN Economic Community. Moreover, this measure could ease the historical vindictiveness between the two nations which could help facilitate the future mutual utilizing of the territory. In sum, the economic determinism thesis is somehow convincing. Nevertheless, it is a nonpanacea theory, particularly in the social world. Therefore, the conflict resolutions toward any case study should be researched in a context-specific base so that the solutions could be implemented effectively. Myopically apply one panacea framework is figuratively resemble to try to plant cactus in every type of soil. By : PEERA CHAROENVATTANANUKUL

PEERA CHAROENVATTANANUKUL

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