Abhisit and the authoritarian regime in Burma

12 10 2010

Readers may remember that during a recent speech in the U.S., Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya mentioned a plan to repatriate Burmese to the country following the election, including political exiles. He also expressed support for the processes currently taking place in Burma under the direction of the military regime.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is often said to be less comfortable with the situation in Burma, although there is no particular “backbone” to his position. In the picture on this page, where he is meeting the senior military leader in Burma, Abhisit does look uncomfortable. Interestingly, the photo is officially provided by the Thai government. However, this alleged discomfort didn’t stop Abhisit visiting and seeking deals with the military leadership. Abhisit also had his own military commander with him on the trip.

In The Irrawaddy it is reported that the “months-long border closure [between Mae Sot and Myawaddy] … remained unresolved,” and the Burmese “rejected Thailand’s offer of help in the Nov. 7 election…”. PPT wonders what advice the Thai side could provide the Burmese military on organizing an outcome. After all, the Burmese military is unlikely to allow a result like that in Thailand in 2007.

Abhisit meets Burma's Senior General Than Shwe, in Naypyidaw

Abhisit is also said to have “conveyed the international community’s concern about the credibility of the election…”. The Burmese are said to have responded that they were “aware of the concerns, but did not want any outside help.” Maybe they also recall Kasit’s earlier statement at the Asia Society:

What’s happening there now. Kasit talks of his “friends” there and their desire for freedom of expression and so on. “The election is a first step back to an open, democratic society, so let’s support them…”. It may not be a completely fair, inclusive election, but it is a first step. Let’s support it.

Thailand remains Burma’s biggest trading partner, with trade, despite border closures amounting to almost US$3.6 billion in the fiscal year 2009-10. The Bangkok Post reports that Abhisit completed an agreement to “jointly develop a deep-sea port at Dawei (Tavoy) on Burma’s Andaman Sea coast as a new economic zone…”. It is reported that Abhisit also said that the Singkhon checkpoint in Prachuap Khiri Khan’s Muang district would be upgraded ” to serve the new economic centre in southern Burma.” In addition, the link between Kanchanaburi and Dawei would be enhanced “as a western gateway to markets in Thailand.”

Acting government mouthpiece Panitan Wattanayagorn helpfully repeated Kasit’s words and added some of his own posterior polishing of Burmese generals, saying: “The election is a first step towards progress and transparency. But it’s an internal, domestic affair…. As a neighbour, Burma can be assured of Thailand’s goodwill.”

The Democrat Party leadership appears entirely comfortable dealing with military leaderships.


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12 10 2010
Tweets that mention Abhisit and the authoritarian regime in Burma « Political Prisoners in Thailand -- Topsy.com

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by NEWSpace, อิสระภาพ แห่งข่าวสาร. อิสระภาพ แห่งข่าวสาร said: Abhisit and the authoritarian regime in Burma: Readers may remember that during a recent speech in the U.S., Forei… http://bit.ly/9QJX7B […]

13 10 2010
Abhisit, Italian-Thai and Burma « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Italian-Thai and Burma Yesterday, PPT posted some brief comments on Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s one-day visit with the Burmese military regime, with […]

16 02 2011
Italian-Thai Tavoy strike | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] that was inked during a visit to Burma by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva in October 2010 (see here also). In January 2011 we also posted regarding the potential impact of the deal. We had another […]