Fact checks on militaries

FACT CHECK: Video of Thai ‘military convoy’ falsely linked to Cambodia territory row

Chanapat Komlongharn

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FACT CHECK: Video of Thai ‘military convoy’ falsely linked to Cambodia territory row
The TikTok video claiming Thailand is transporting trucks for a recent military exercise in the disputed maritime area with Cambodia actually features a compilation of unrelated events

Claim: Thailand is transporting armored trucks using railways and land vehicles for a military exercise around Koh Kood island in Trad province, parts of which Cambodia claims, in preparation for any potential conflict.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The video bearing the claim was posted on March 3, 2024, when the issue of the disputed maritime boundary between Thailand and Cambodia resurfaced.  It has 1,109 likes, 48 comments, and 56 shares as of writing.

The video was posted by TikTok user “sahawit_loei,” who has 41,000 followers. Several of his posts seem to be hate-driven content, promoting nationalist sentiments and potentially sparking xenophobia.

Some of his videos feature comments like: “Navy fights on water. Air force eradicated them (Cambodia). The Thai army collapsed them entirely. [Thai] people, prepare to take [Cambodian] lands and unite them all as Thailand.”

The facts: The 1:49-minute video uses footage from two different sources, and both are not connected with any recent military drill related to the disputed maritime area between Thailand and Cambodia, as claimed.

The first 14 seconds of the clip are sourced from a YouTube video by “S. Thonusit.” It reveals that the trucks shown in the misleading TikTok video are an M41 owned by the 9th Armored Regiment, 4th Infantry Division of the Royal Thai Army. It shows the trucks being transported from Phitsanulok province to the southern Nakorn Sri Thammarat, not around Trad province.

Most importantly, the original video was posted three years ago, not recently as claimed.

The remaining part of the TikTok video, which appears to depict an army exercise, was sourced from a 2022 video on the YouTube channel “LM Channel,” boasting over 133,000 followers.

The YouTube video shows military exercises concerning the tactical operations of tank units and training as a battalion unit for 2022. 

Row over Koh Kood Island: The TikTok video was posted as the issue of overlapping claims in the Gulf of Thailand was brought into the limelight once again after the leaders of Thailand and Cambodia reopened discussions during their talk in Bangkok in February 2024. 

The dispute traces back to the early 1970s, when Cambodia claimed a maritime territory extending 200 nautical miles from the continental shelf, prompting the Thai government to make a similar claim in 1973. It is believed that the disputed area harbors significant natural gas and oil resources

In 2001, the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding, agreeing to negotiate the maritime border and jointly develop petroleum resources. However, no significant progress was made until the recent talks in February.

These talks gave rise to concerns that Koh Kood island, a popular tourist destination, may be used as a bargaining chip in negotiations. The Thai government, however, said Thailand will not lose sovereignty over Koh Kood.

Dispute between Thailand and Cambodia: Throughout history, both nations have faced multiple disputes driven by nationalist sentiments among their citizens. A significant incident occurred in 2003, when a Thai actress falsely claimed Angkor Wat as Thai heritage, sparking riots and the burning of the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh.

In 2008, UNESCO’s listing of the disputed Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site triggered anger among Thai “yellow shirt” nationalists, leading to intense border clashes between the militaries of the two countries. – Rappler.com

Chanapat Komlongharn is a #FactsMatter Journalism Fellow for 2023-2024

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