14 Days Visa Free between two “uneasy neighboring Countries”
16 December 2010; it is an important day for Cambodians and Thai. Starting from this day, people from both sides, who carry normal passports and would like to visit other country withhin the period of 14 days, could do so without requiring a visa. The agreement was reached and signed by both Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the two neighboring countries, Hor Nam Hong and Kasit Phiromja, on 17 November 2010 in Phnom Penh. It was also one of the results of four meetings/negotiations between Prime Ministers Hun Sen and Abhisit in less than a year, in late 2009 and 2010. Thailand was the seventh country that has such an agreement with Cambodia in ASEAN. It is another step towards “freer movement” of ASEAN people, to be reached in 2015. Other countries, that have similar agreement with us, are Philiipines, Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, Vietnam and Indonesia. The other two countries left are Myanmar and Brunei.
However, it is a big step regarding the relationship between Thailand and Cambodia. The two countries has diplomatic relations since 1950 and share many cultural similarities. For the 60th annivesary, we have one more reason to celebrate. It was not natural since both countries have uneasy relationship in the past and recently hostile tension since July 15, 2008, when Thailand sent troops to occupy part of the territory along the Preah Vihear temple. There were several arms build-up and military clashes in the past two years along the border which lead to the lost of many lifes of the soldiers.
Some benefits of this “visa free” action:
– Encouraging more visitors and business people to visit other country
– Encouraging more investment in many sectors, especially tourism
– Easy access for traveling people
– Save money, time and energy to apply for the visa and also contribute to ease the traffics and road accidents
– Increasing the free flow of visitors and people have opportunity to learn from each other and cultural exchange
– Last but not least, less trees will be felt to produce passports. It is good for the environment
I have been traveling frequently to Thailand for business trips in my capacity as programme Manager of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation and CEDAC. Including this one (20-23.12.10), it is my 69 visits to this country. I have used up six passports. For each trip, it requires almost two pages of my passport.
My wishes are that more countries should open up for a visa free option, in order :
– To promote trade and investment
– To exchange culture and better understanding between people
– To boost globalization
– To open up the economy and
– last but not least to open the political system and society in general
Today, I experienced this visa free option when I come to Thailand this time. I did not need to send my passport, copy of my ID card, application form, one photo via the travel agency to the Thai embassy for the visa as in the past. The staff of the travel agency does not need to drive to the embassy. When I arrived at the immigration counter at Bangkok Sovarnabhumi International airport, the immigration official just asks me: no visa? I said no. How long you stay? Four days, was my reply. She then made a stamp on my passport and I proceeded to the baggage claim. It was very easy feeling for me.