By The Irrawaddy
MOVE FORWARD leader and prime minister candidate Pita Limjaroenrat’s stance on Myanmar has raised alarm bells with Myanmar’s junta leading to a directive being issued to regional commanders to watch the border, The Irrawaddy news website said today (June 5).
Shortly after Pita was quoted by Thai TV Channel 3 as saying Thailand now has an opportunity to bring stability to Myanmar which has been politically and socially devastated by the 2021 coup, Myanmar’s No. 2 Vice Senior Gen. Soe Win issued the following directive to his regional commanders.
“The Move Forward Party is pro-West and they will assist terrorists [resistance groups active along the border] … We have to watch the border and get information about them, their movements and their activities.”
Myanmar has been engulfed in armed conflict since 2021, as the junta conducts a brutal crackdown on the nationwide armed uprising against military rule. China is a major investor in Myanmar, while Thailand shares a border of more than 2,400 kilometres with its neighbour, an important trade partner.
Pita said his talks with the US and China showed that both countries want stability restored in Myanmar.
“Thailand has the ability and opportunity to make this happen. We can guide the leaders of Association of Southeast Asian (Asean) countries to collaborate to help Myanmar,” he said.
Thailand’s proximity to Myanmar also gave it an advantage that other Asean countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia lack, he added.
As a neighbour, Thailand could invite Asean leaders for roundtable discussions on Myanmar that would benefit the country.
“We [Thailand and Myanmar] are neighbours. If your neighbour gets cold, you are affected, too.”
Thailand is under pressure from the influx of Myanmar refugees, as well as fighting between junta troops and resistance forces on its frontier, and disruption to border trade.
“Even if they are illegal migrant workers, we have to take care of them as they are humans and we are sharing the border,” Pita said of border-crossers.
Pita has been a consistent critic of Thailand’s policy on Myanmar, where the junta has been attacking both resistance forces and civilians, by bombing villages, schools, and clinics.
He revealed his policy on Myanmar at a post-election press conference on May 15, saying, “We want to push ahead to make sure the Five Point Consensus is really achieved.” The consensus is the peace plan for Myanmar adopted by Asean in the wake of the 2021 coup and bloody crackdown. The junta has ignored the plan and continued killing civilians.
Pita said the Move Forward-led coalition government would restore Thailand’s leading role in Asean and work to curb the violence in Myanmar.
“We will start a humanitarian journey, especially with the Burma Act passed by US Congress, which means we can start that work with the international community to ensure the right amount of pressure and incentives for people to resolve their conflict.”
The Burma Act authorises US funding of non-lethal support for resistance forces in Myanmar.
Move Forward leader and prime minister candidate Pita Limjaroenrat. Top photo: Matichon, Front Page photo: Thai Rath
Insert: Gen. Soe Win of Myanmar. File photo: David Longstreath/Associated Press and published by The New York Times