In the past, we had constructive engagement and flexible engagement, but they never took us anywhere. . . Now, we will adopt another approach, neighbour engagement. We will talk to them in a friendly manner on subjects that they are comfortable with.But here's where it gets worse, or strange. I mean really strange. The Bangkok Post reports: "he would also talk about the Election Commission's experiences in organizing a constitutional referendum when he visits Burma in the second week of March. The junta has announced plans for a national referendum in May." **
The policy of non-interference remains a sacrosanct principle, not only for Asean but also the international community.
Translation: Thailand will help Burma orchestrate its bogus constitutional referendum.** Now wouldn't that be ironic?
The new Thai government is the reincarnation of the government ousted by the military coup, and it was the coup-makers who put forward the referendum on a new constitution.**
It's unbelievable to think that this new democratically elected government of Thailand would offer to help Burma's junta to model their referendum on the referendum initiated by the previous military-backed Thai regime.
By his recent words concerning to Burma, the foreign minister betrays the very principles of democracy that the election of his government in December represented to Thai voters and the world at large.
Note: Thailand's was Burma's top trading partner during 2006-07 with a bilateral trade volume of $2.66 billion. Thailand does twice as much trade with Burma as China. And the government of Burma claims to control over half of the country's trade (Myanmar Times, quoting Myanmar government sources).
* Bangkok Post: "Thailand has no choice but to put national economic interests before human rights concerns in dealing with Burma, Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama said yesterday."
I think it probable that the very idea for Burma to hold its proposed May referendum was inspired by the constitutional referendum held in Thailand by the Thai junta held in August 2007.
**Consider that the new Thai constitution passed by referendum was designed to produce weaker elected governments and puts greater authority in the hands of an unelected judiciary than the 1997 Constitution which it replaced. Recall that the Thai junta backed interim regime made it difficult -- illegal in some cases -- for people to campaign against the referendum on the new constitution. Moreover, the 1997 constitution the coup makers discarded had been a democratic one.