Company News

Cambodia blasts Google map of disputed Thai border

PHNOM PENH, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Cambodia has hit out at Google GOOG.O over what it called a "radically misleading" map of the disputed Thai-Cambodia border, accusing the world's biggest search engine of being "professionally irresponsible".

Cambodia, which is embroiled in a bitter diplomatic row with Thailand over the demarcation of the frontier, said the Google Earth map was “devoid of truth and reality” and called for its immediate removal because it was not internationally recognised.

Cambodia made the complaint in a letter issued a day ahead of the first-ever visit to the border region by its outspoken prime minister, Hun Sen, a move likely to raise tension between the historic foes.

“(The map) is devoid of truth and reality, and professionally irresponsible, if not pretentious,” Svay Sitha, secretary of state of the Cambodia’s Council of Ministers, wrote in the letter seen by Reuters on Friday.

“We therefore request that you withdraw the already disseminated, very wrong and not internationally recognised map and replace it,” he said.

Both countries have a heavy military presence along the border, where deadly clashes have occurred in the past three years.

At the centre of the row is the 11th century Preah Vihear temple, ownership of which was awarded to Cambodia in a 1962 international court ruling. However, many Thais have never fully accepted the decision and the temple has been used by both countries to stoke nationalist fervour.

Thailand last year withdrew its pledge of support for Cambodia to list Preah Vihear as a UNESCO World Heritage site, arguing that jurisdiction of land around the temple had never been settled.

The move angered Hun Sen, who has since formed a provocative alliance with exiled Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra, giving him a base close to home in his fight to bring down the Thai government. (For a Q+A on the dispute: [ID:nBKK17999])

Hun Sen is accused by Bangkok of colluding with the billionaire, offering him a home and a job as an economic adviser, to escalate a five-year political crisis in Thailand.

Google is currently locked in a dispute with China and last month said it was reviewing its business operations there after a series of sophisticated cyber-attacks. (Reporting by Prak Chan Thul; Editing by Martin Petty)