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The New Thailand-Myanmar Axis


With China’s backing, post-coup Thailand and Myanmar–
ASEAN’s quasi-democracies– are moving closer together.

By Pavin Chachavalpongpun    The Thai military staged a coup on
May 22, claiming to restore peace and order
after months of protests  against
the elected government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. In reality,
it was a military scheme to take control of politics ahead of an uncertain royal
succession. In the process, it destroyed democratic institutions and violated
the people’s human rights.

Immediately after the coup, an army of Western countries voiced their concern about the disappearance of democratic space. Subsequently, they imposed “soft sanctions,” with the United States suspending its financial support for the Thai military and the European Union freezing all cooperation with the kingdom.

This article of original source can be visit at click here

Amid international sanctions, the Thai junta has found some comfort in the warm embrace of China. Shortly after the coup, photos surfaced of Army Chief, General Prayuth Chan-ocha– who’s also serving as the interim prime minister– shaking hands with Chinese business owners, demonstrating the Thai tactic of employing China to counterbalance Western sanctions.

But China is not Thailand’s only friend in its time of need. On July 4, Myanmar Supreme Commander Senior General Min Aung Hlaing paid a visit to Bangkok, making him the first leader from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to meet the Thai junta after the coup.

He held a cozy discussion with Prayuth, purportedly to strengthen ties between Thailand and Myanmar. Disturbingly, Min Aung Hlaing praised the Thai junta for “doing the right thing” in seizing power. He also compared his country’s experience during the political upheaval that took place in Yangon in 1988, when the tatmadaw, or Myanmar’s army, launched deadly crackdowns against pro-democracy activists.

But Min Aung Hlaing’s relationship with Thailand is more than skin deep. He is the adopted son of Thai military supremo, General Prem Tinsulanonda, the former prime minister, army chief, and current president of the Privy Council. Prem, while still in the army, personally knew Min Aung Hlaing’s father. In 2012, Prem adopted Min Aung Hlaing as his son.

Min Aung Hlaing is a rising star in the tatmadaw and a possible candidate to be the next president of Myanmar. Meanwhile, Prayuth is likely to assume the premiership when the Thai government is formed in the next few months. The intimate ties between the two countries suggest a new alliance of quasi-democracies is being established in Southeast Asia.

Critics were too quick to celebrate Myanmar’s opening up process. In reality, Myanmar has yet to come out of the military’s shadow, with 25 percent of parliamentary seats still being reserved for army delegates. Opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi is also barred from seeking the presidency, thus guaranteeing that the military will continue to dominate the country’s highest office.

Similarly, last week the Thai junta unveiled the interim constitution to the public. Immediately, critics complained that it seems to have been designed to further the military’s political role rather than promote democracy. Indeed, it seems that the Thai military has taken Myanmar’s constitution as a model, with Prayuth confirming that the military will remain a fundamental element in the new government. To be precise, the military as institution will be more powerful than the government.

Already, Prayuth has seriously undermined the democratic structure in Thailand by replacing a large number of senior bureaucrats with individuals close to the army, eliminating the pro-democracy red-shirt networks in the far-flung provinces, and recently scraping local elections to pave the way for candidates appointed by the military.

Gradually, the political interests of Thailand and Myanmar seem to converge. With the backing of China, the two largest states in mainland Southeast Asia have increasingly emerged as a large dark hole that could threaten democracy in the region. China has successfully made inroads into Myanmar, and now serves as Thailand’s legitimacy provider in defiance of international sanctions.

This quasi-democracy club will become a thorn in ASEAN’s community building, which will materialize by the end of 2015. Myanmar is this year’s ASEAN chair. Instead of urging the Thai junta to immediately reinstate democracy, Myanmar praised the coup in Thailand. The reverse of the political trend, from democracy back to authoritarianism, could tremendously undermine ASEAN’s Political and Security Community, whose key principle is upholding democratic values. In fact, the new alliance between Thailand and Myanmar could negatively affect peace and stability of the Southeast Asian region.

In a broader context, a new model of quasi-democracy cultivated in Thailand and Myanmar poses a menace to American interests in Southeast Asia. It is true that, in the game of international politics, the United States is nervous about China strengthening ties to the two Southeast Asian states. But the real long-term and sustainable interest for the U.S. is to consolidate democracy here as much as anywhere else.

Thailand is the United States’ oldest ally in Asia. The coup has shaped a new kind of comradeship between Thailand, China and Myanmar, and this comes at the expense of Bangkok’s relations with the United States. The United States and its democratic friends must rethink their strategies for restoring democracy in Thailand.

Heftier international sanctions represent one crucial option. Frequently, international sanctions are used as merely symbolic weapons. Indeed, Myanmar coped quite well with sanctions in the past. The international community must therefore find a more effective way to deal with the Thai junta. For example, sanctions should serve to disrupt Thailand’s place in the global supply chain since the country is highly dependent on global trade. This would harm big businesses in Thailand, which are currently supporting the financial interests of the junta.

The international community may also consider supporting a newly established “Free Thai Organization,” reportedly headquartered in California, which is a pro-democracy group formed by exiled members of the ruling Pheu Thai party, as a vehicle to undermine the legitimacy of the junta.

Pavin Chachavalpongpun is associate professor at Kyoto University’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies.

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Key senator urges Myanmar to reform constitution


— Sen. Mitch McConnell issued a strong call Thursday for Myanmar to amend its constitution to allow opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to run for president and for the military to submit to civilian rule. Read more

Myanmar’s Facebook Block Could Signal More to Come


July 7, 2014 | By Jillian York

In early March, Yangon—the former capital of Myanmar (Burma)—played host to a conference held by the East-West Center, called “Challenges of a Free Press.” The event (which I attended) featured speakers from around the world, but was more notable for its local speakers, including Aung San Suu Kyi and Nay Phone Latt, a blogger who spent four years as a political prisoner before being released under a widespread presidential amnesty in 2012. In a country where the Internet was heavily censored for many years, online freedom was discussed with surprising openness, although concerns about hate speech on platforms like Facebook were raised repeatedly.

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Fort Hood ပစ္ခတ္ မႈ ေလးဦး ေသ ၊ ၁၄ ဦး ဒဏ္ရာရ


အေမရိကန္ ႏိုင္ငံ တကၠဆက္ျပည္နယ္ မွာ ရွိတဲ့ ဖို ဒ္ ဟုဒ္ (Fort Hood) စစ္စခန္း မွာ ေသနတ္ ပစ္
ခတ္ မႈ ျဖစ္ ပြား တာ ေၾကာင့္ အနည္း ဆံုး ေလးဦး ေသဆံုး ၿပီး ၁၄ ဦးဒဏ္ရာ ရရွိ တယ္ လို ့ ပစ္ခတ္ Read more

ကၽြန္ဘ၀ မွာ ၁၂ ႏွစ္ၾကာ ရုပ္ရွင္ကား အေကာင္းဆံုး ဇာတ္ကားဆု ရ


၈၆ ႀကိမ္ေျမာက္ ေအာ္စကာ ဆုေပး ပြဲ ကို ကာလီဖိုးနီးယား ျပည္နယ္ ေလာစ္ဇင္းဂ်လိစ္ က ဒိုလ္ဘီ ဇာတ္ရံု မွာ
ယေန ့ က်င္း ပ ပါတယ္။  စကားေျပာ ရိႈး ေတြ ကို တင္ဆက္ တဲ့ အယ္လင္ ဒီဂ်ီနာရက္စ က Read more

ခရိုင္းမီးယား မွာ ၀င္မေမႊ ဖို ့ ရုွရွား ကို အိုဘားမား သတိေပး


ယူကရိန္း ႏိုင္ငံ ပိုင္နက္ ျဖစ္တဲ့ ခရိုင္းမီးယား ကြ်ဆြယ္ ထဲ ကို ရုရွား စစ္ တပ္ ေတြ
၀င္ေရာက္ တပ္ ဆြဲ ထား တယ္လို ့ ယူကရိန္း ၾကား ျဖတ္ အစိုးရ က သတင္းဌာန Read more

မေန ့ က သမၼတ ၊ ဒီေန ့ ၀ရမ္းေျပး


The FNG (BKK) - ပါလီမန္ ၏ ဆံုးျဖတ္ ခ်က္ျဖင့္ ရာထူး မွ ဖယ္ရွား ခံလိုက္ရသည့္ ယူကရိန္း ၀န္ႀကီး
ခ်ဳပ္ ဗစ္တာ ယာႏူကိုဗစ္ သည္ ကရိုင္းမီးယား ကြ်န္းဆြယ္ ေဒသ ကို ထြက္ ေျပး သြား Read more

ကရိုင္းမီးယား ပါလီမန္ ကို လက္နက္ကိုင္ ေတြ ၀င္စီး


ၾကာသပေတး ေန ့ နံနက္ အေစာ ပိုင္း မွာ လက္နက္ ကိုင္ လူတစ္စု က ကရိုင္း
မီးယား ကၽြန္းဆြယ္ က ဆမ္ရိုဖိုလ္း ခရိုင္ ပါလီ မန္ ကို သိမ္းပိုက္ လိုက္ ပါတယ္။ Read more

တိဘက္ ဘုန္းေတာ္ႀကီး ကို လက္ခံ ေတြ ့ဆံုတာ မလုပ္ ဖို ့ အိုဘားမား ကို တရုတ္ ဖိအားေပး


တိဘက္ ဘုန္းေတာ္ႀကီး ဒလိုင္းလားမား  နဲ ့ ေသာၾကာ ေန ့ ေတြ ့ဆံု ဖို
့ အစီအစဥ္ ကို ဖ်က္ သိမ္း ဖို ့ တရုတ္ ေခါင္းေဆာင္ ေတြ က အေမရိကန္ Read more

ယူကရိန္း ဆႏၵျပပြဲ တစ္ရက္ တည္း မွာ ၁၀၀ ေက်ာ္ ေသ


ယူကရိန္းနိုင္ငံ ကီးယက္ဗ္ ၿမိဳ   ့ လယ္ က အစိုးရ ဆန္ ့က်င္ ဆႏၵ ျပသူ ေတြ ရဲ  ့ သပိတ္
စခန္း ကို ရဲ က ၀င္ေရာက္ ၿဖိဳခြဲ သိမ္းပိုက္ ရာမွာ အျပန္ အလွန္ ပစ္ခတ္ မႈ Read more

ဖရန္ ့ဆစ္ ေဘကြန္ ရဲ ့ ပန္းခ်ီကား ေဒၚလာ သန္း ၇၀ နဲ ့ ေရာင္း


ၾကာသပေတး ေန ့ က က်င္းပတဲ့ လန္ဒန္ ခရစၥတင္း ေလလံ ျပ ပြဲ မွာ အိုင္းရရွ္
ပန္းခ်ီ ေက်ာ္ ဖရန္ ့ဆစ္ ေဘကြန္ ရဲ  ” ေဂ်ာ့ဒိုင္ယာ ရဲ  ့ ေျပာ ေဟာ မႈ” Portrait Read more

မာရီယပ္(စ) ကို သတ္ ၿပီး ျခေသၤ့ စာ ေကြ်း


ဒိန္းမတ္ ႏိုင္ငံ ကိုပင္ေဟဂင္ ၿမိဳ  ့ တိရစာၱန္ ရံု မွာ သစ္ကုလား အုတ္ နဲ ့ အျခား
တိရစာၦန္ ေတြ တိုး ပြား မ်ား ျပား လာ တာ ကို ထိမ္းခ်ဳပ္ တဲ့ အေနနဲ ့ က်န္းမာ Read more

ျမန္မာ့ ေလေၾကာင္း မွာ သံုးဖို ့ ဘိုးရင္း ေလယာဥ္ ဆယ္စီး ကို ေဒၚလာ တစ္ဘီလွ်ံ နီး ပါ နဲ ့ ၀ယ္


အာရွ တိုက္ ရဲ  ့ အႀကီးဆံုး ေလေၾကာင္း ျပ ပြဲ ျဖစ္ တဲ့ စကၤာ ပူ ေလေၾကာင္း ျပပြဲ
Singapore Airshow ကို သြား တဲ့ ကိုယ္စားလွယ္ ေတြ ဟာ ျမန္မာ့ ေလေၾကာင္း Read more

တရုတ္ လီႏိုဗို က ေမာ္ေတာ္ရိုလာ ကုမၸဏီ ကို ၀ယ္ယူ


The FNG – YGN အေမရိကန္ ဆဲလ္ဖုန္း ႏွင့္ ဆက္သြယ္ေရး ပစၥည္း ကိရိယာမ်ား ထုတ္ လုပ္သည့္ ကုမၸ
ဏီ တစ္ခု ျဖစ္သည့္ Motorola  ဆယ္လဲဖုန္း ကုမၸဏီ တရုတ္ ကြန္ပ်ဳတာ ကုမၸဏီ Read more

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