Thai seminar with exiled Myanmar leaders signals shift in stance, say analysts

But the event angers Myanmar’s junta, and the Thai foreign minister abruptly cancels his speech.
By RFA Burmese
Thai seminar with exiled Myanmar leaders signals shift in stance, say analysts Participants in the Myanmar seminar hosted by the Thai Parliament on March 2, 2024.
The Reporters via Facebook

Thailand’s parliament held its first meeting with members of Myanmar’s shadow National Unity Government – made up of former civilian leaders ousted in the 2021 coup – to discuss democracy and security issues along the Thai-Myanmar border, attendees said.

The two-day seminar, organized by the Thai opposition Move Forward party at the Parliament House in Bangkok on Saturday and Sunday, also discussed humanitarian aid to the war-torn country. 

It was titled, “Three Years after the Coup: Towards a Democratic Myanmar and its Impact on Security along the Thai Border.” 

Speakers included Zin Mar Aung, the NUG’s foreign minister, United Nations Special Representative for Human Rights in Myanmar Tom Andrews and the permanent representative of Myanmar to the U.N. in New York, Kyaw Moe Tun.

Leaders of Myanmar’s minority ethnic groups, civil society organizations and student union leaders also attended the seminar.

Angers junta

But the event angered the military junta, which sent a letter to Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the event tarnished Thai-Myanmar ties.

Thai Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara was scheduled to give a keynote speech, but this was canceled at the last minute without explanation.

“We have no comment on this matter because the Thai foreign ministry was not the event co-organizer,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Radio Free Asia on Thursday.

The foreign minister said in February Thailand was stepping up efforts to aid suffering citizens in Myanmar by opening a humanitarian corridor to Myanmar in about a month.

The US$300 million plan has the backing of Southeast Asian nations, including Myanmar.

It also has the support of the United States. On Thursday, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink said the U.S. wanted to work closely with Thailand to ensure regional security and prosperity.

“I praised in great detail and repeatedly the Thai government’s ongoing and long-standing efforts to support refugees who have fled violence in Myanmar and the more recent efforts by Prime Minister Srettha’s government, in the ASEAN context, to again increase the humanitarian assistance across the border,” he told a teleconference.

Participants in the Myanmar seminar hosted by the Thai Parliament on March 3, 2024. (The Reporters via Facebook) 

Thailand’s government has prioritized establishing relations with the junta, officially known as the Military Council, following the February 2021 coup.

But the fact that the seminar was held may point to a shift in stance in the Thai government, a former Burmese military officer who is now a political analyst, who requested anonymity for security reasons, told RFA.

"It is undeniable that the current Military Council regime is facing defeats on the battlefield, their credibility has declined, and now the democracy activists have been invited for discussions,” he said.

Rangsiman Rome, the head of the lower house committee of parliament, one of the organizers of the two-day seminar, said he hoped the meeting would help pave the way for Myanmar to solve the crisis through a peaceful and long-term solution, Reuters reported.

After the seminar, the former leader of Thailand's Move Forward Party Pita Limjaroenrat wrote on X that they are closely monitoring the politics of Myanmar and will help in solving the crisis.

Translated by Aung Naing. Edited by Eugene Whong and Malcolm Foster.


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Numonly, Chiang Mai
Mar 07, 2024 04:51 PM

The Thai government has many missions. Therefore, one area of work cannot be fully completed if it affects other areas. This shortcoming can be compensated for by the work of the opposition political parties. Therefore, the government and opposition political parties must work together. Don't work only for their own political gain.