Casino Project Sparks Military Standoff On Thai Border

Casino Project Sparks Military Standoff On Thai BorderA disputed area between the borders of Thailand and Cambodia has become a potential military flashpoint after Cambodian authorities brought in machinery to start work on a casino and a hotel project. The tension is taking place in a wedge of land claimed by both countries as sovereign territory, and whose ownership is part of a wider dispute dating back at least a century.
The situation is made even more volatile as Cambodia allows casino gambling, whereas Thailand is firmly against its perceived “social ills” and has been trying its utmost to stamp down on the practice. Nonetheless, it is estimated that as much as $10 billion is spent each year in Thailand on illegal gambling games. Corruption still takes place, though, and after a coup was staged by the Thai army in May, a number of illegal casinos that had previously been protected by senior military figures were subsequently shut.
Following the latest incident, the governor of the Serm Chainarong district, Ubon Ratchathani, sent a letter to Preah Vihear governor Oam Mara, stating that the Cambodian authorities were violating  Thai territory, and an agreement that had demarcated the two countries’ borders. Thailand’s Ubon Ratchathani then shut the border pass on Monday, while Cambodia apparently brought more soldiers into the area, a move which was then reciprocated by Thailand’s 6th Infantry Regiment.
Following this increase in tension, Cambodia has apparently temporarily halted construction on the casino project and Thailand’s deputy government spokesman, Maj Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd, relaying the words of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, stressed that the two countries should approach the issue of their border dispute with sincerity.
“In cases of unclear boundaries, neighboring countries should give more attention to projects that develop border trade and share benefits, rather than fight over border lines,” explained  Maj Gen Sansern.

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