Abhisit should focus more on people to people relationship
The heart of the problem is on how to change the tyrannical behaviour of the Burmese military clique, which has been calling the shots for more than four and half decades.
Tuesday, 13 January 2009
The UN, EU, ASEAN and international community have been urging the military regime to genuinely give way to all-inclusiveness and fair political participation for all, in a democratic manner, without success.
The core problem is that the military is determined to hold on to power, at all cost, through its sham democratic-trappings. To pave way for its continued hold on power, it has approved its self-drawn constitution, without the people's consent. The election, which is scheduled to be held in 2010, is going to ensure the military's hold on power. Accordingly, 25 % will be allotted to the military without election and the rest 75% will be contested by National Unity Party (NUP) and Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA),which are both military's sponsored parties. There might be some small neutral to opposition parties competing in the process, but they are there to be shown as a show case of democratic competition and nothing more. So the outcome is predictable.
As such, the Abhisit government is forced to invest in a long term plan than a short-lived one. Thailand shares thousands of kilometres border with Burma and it is not going to change, even with the change of the military regime in Burma.
My suggestion is that while applying diplomatic overtures and probing the military to change its stance, in line with international norms, improving and upgrading relations with the people of Burma should be at the forefront. With this, I mean the whole spectrum of the population, which includes all peoples - meaning: Burman and all non-Burman ethnic groups -, political parties - legal and illegal from the point of view of Burmese military regime -, and all resistance groups - such as Shan, Karen, Karenni and Mon - along the Thai/Burma border.
As a start, Abhisit-led government could mend bridges, upgrade existing relations and help structure or build human security needs for the people along the border. It is this population that Thailand would have to deal and interact with. And it will be this population and the organisations that represent them, which will contribute to border security and harmony for both countries.
I am convinced that it is high time that Abhisit should advance a comprehensive strategy aimed at people to people relationship, especially along the border, rather than just focusing on Burmese military government.
(Sai Wansai is the General Secretary of the exiled Shan Democratic Union - Editor)