Asean’s Albatross
covering burma and southeast asia
Thursday, November 15, 2018

Asean’s Albatross

By Asda Jayanama Thursday, March 24, 2005

(Page 3 of 5)

The Lao, Cambodians and Vietnamese are already going back to the formula of the Indochinese grouping


Q: Why does Burma seem to have such power over Asean?


A: It is the mentality of Asean politicians; the mentality of the Malaysians and Indonesians because they are ex-colonies [like Burma], and maybe a little bit the Singaporean mentality too. For the Singaporeans it is mainly business, but they tend to follow Indonesia and Malaysia to a certain extent because they’re in the middle [geographically]. In Malaysia in particular, the mentality is to get back at the West. It’s an inferiority complex: “If the West  tells me to do it, I won’t do it.” Just to show that the West is no longer in control. So, through Burma, they get the satisfaction of not doing what the West wants. In Thailand’s case, it is not an inferiority complex because we don’t have that [colonial history], that’s why we’re friendly with the West. In our case, at least during this Thaksin [Shinawatra] regime, it’s purely business.


Q: So for Thailand, the motivation to engage with Burma is purely economic?


A: Thaksin’s view of man is that man is an economic animal. And he has a business mentality; once a businessman, always a businessman. The way he looks at Burma is from a business point of view. He thinks that by giving financial aid he will eventually be in control. So many thousands of millions of baht, and he keeps giving to the extent that they will feel completely dependent—although they talk about pride; Win Aung [former Burmese foreign minister] said of the Thai government: ‘They think we’re monkeys that they can throw bananas to and that’s enough.’ Basically, Thaksin thinks he can control these people through money. This is also the way he operates in Thailand; he believes that everyone has a price.


[Thai Prime Minister] Thaksin [Shinawatra] doesn’t know anything about the UN, and I can tell you this is not just hearsay.

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