Hints of Burma-Thailand Tension Appear in State-run Media
The Burmese state-run-media hinted on Tuesday of increased tension between the military junta and the current Thai chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) over comments he made about the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Burmese newspapers published a story about the Asean-EU meeting in Phnom Penh on May 27-28 which Burmese deputy foreign minister Maung Myint attended.
The story briefly outlined Thailand’s expression of concern over charges against Suu Kyi at an informal meeting on May 27.
In response, Maung Myint was quoted as saying, “The matter no longer needs to be put on the agenda of the Asean-EU meeting,” contending it had already been discussed during the Hanoi meeting.
Like other Burmese officials, Maung Myint called Suu Kyi’s trial “a matter of internal legal process.”
Burmese newspapers reported that Maung Myint said “some neighboring nations were unreasonably interested in the hearing of the case” at the Asean-EU meeting on May 28.
The deputy minister was quoted as saying at the meeting, “Actually, it is Thailand that needs to forge national reconciliation. Thailand saw year-long demonstrations in which different groups in red, yellow and blue made an attempt to oust the government and jeopardize the Asean Summit.”
Rejecting the reactions of the international community over Suu Kyi’s trial, Maung Myint said the case was not “a political or human rights issue.”
A separate Thailand-Burma story published in Myanma Alin under the headline: “Thailand should not be tension [sic] with Burma, warned Gen Sonthi.”
Quoting a story from Bankok’s Thai Rath newspaper on May 28, Myanma Alin reported on Tuesday that Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin, the 2006 coup maker who ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, warned that “if Thailand has a conflict with Burma, it will face defeat.”
Sonthi was quoted as saying that Burma has onshore and offshore natural resources and it has resources that can produce nuclear power, according to the report in Myanma Alin.
Sonthi’s remark came just a day after Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya’s was quoted as making a critical comment on Burma in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.
“The changes in Myanmar are very much needed,” he was quoted as saying on Monday. “It not only is a necessity for the security of Myanmar but also for all the neighboring countries including Bangladesh and Thailand.”
According to Dhaka’s newspapers, Kasit said the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Bangladesh went through military regimes “to some extent.”
”All of us have got rid of military authoritative regimes and emerged to have democratic societies,” he said. He suggested that Indonesia was a good model for Burma’s democratization.
“So the question to be posed on Myanmar is why can’t they also emerge from that to an open society? It would be good for the whole region. It would good for all of us,” he said.
Normally, Thailand’s relationship with Burma has been relatively stable since the 1988 military coup in Burma, largely because of Thailand’s “business first policy.” Thailand was the first country to invest in Burma after the brutal Burmese military crackdown on demonstrators. Currently, it is the Burmese regime’s biggest trade partner.
However, there was some tension between the neighboring countries when Thailand was governed by the Democratic Party in the late 1990s. Thailand’s foreign minister attempted to replace Asean’s “constructive engagement” policy on Burma with a more pro-active “flexible engagement” policy.
Currently, the Democratic party again governs in Thailand and is openly making more critical comments about Burma and the trial of Suu Kyi.
Several other Asean members including Asean founders Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia, have made similar critical statements over the trial of Suu Kyi. Cambodia also has expressed a statement of concern.
Most Asean members have supported Thailand’s critical statement on the trial of Suu Kyi and the release of all political prisoners, because they see the issue as a challenge to the new Asean Charter, which has a human rights body.
Junta :NON-interference in internal affairs of a nation is a …