Thai-Burmese Relations
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Thai-Burmese Relations

After the coup, the new Foreign Minister Nitya Pibulsonggram, told the media that Thailand had ended the cosy, commercial relationship with military-ruled Myanmar and that we “don’t have that kind of relationship with people in Pyinmana”.

Nevertheless, the change in Thailand’s relationship with Burma is more a change in style not substance.

Last week, Kavi Chongkittavorn had this to say in The Nation:

It seems the Surayud government is losing its way in the labyrinth of Thai-Burmese relations. He has followed the Foreign Ministry’s guidelines, which aim to win back trust and support from the junta. Knowingly or not, he earlier gave support to the junta by saying the UN Security Council should not be discussingBurma’s internal issues.

The Thai government continues to pursue the wrong policy. It’s a reminder of the three million Indochinese refugees who took refuge here in the 1970s and 80s. Almost all have been resettled in third countries or have gone home. None expressed gratitude forThailand ‘s role during that difficult period. Indeed, they do not have reason to do so, because they were treated inhumanely during their transit here.

If Surayud does not change this Burmese policy, it will tarnish both his image and Thailand’s reputation. More than the officials like to admit, these Burmese workers will eventually reside and work in Thailand because they work on jobs that Thais refuse to do. The proper way to document these workers is through the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and specialised agencies.

COMMENT: I think the question that needs to be asked will Surayud change Thailand’s constructive engagement policy with Burma? If he doesn’t, has anything really changed?