covering burma and southeast asia
Wednesday, December 12, 2018


By The Irrawaddy JUNE, 2000 - VOLUME 8 NO.6

(Page 2 of 2)

Since mid-1999, there have been at least 36 battalions stationed in towns and villages along the Lashio-Muse road alone, said the report.

SHAN quotes an ex-member of a local township council as saying that the top military command had set down a policy of self-reliance for regional and local military commands, prompting increasing depredations on the local population. The source also noted that most of the new battalions were under-sized, "in order to get as much land for the military as possible."

Apart from helping to provide for the needs of Burma’s vastly expanded armed forces, the growing presence may also have strategic significance.

"One of the main objects of the SPDC’s military expansion in northern Shan State is probably to one day threaten some of the 10 ceasefire groups in the area into laying down their arms or force them to dissolve altogether," commented one observer in Lashio. Despite the cessation of open conflict in much of the state, most ceasefire groups remain heavily armed.

 Thai Rak Thai & the Burmese

In an attempt to bolster its foreign policy credentials, a team from media-mogul cum politician Thaksin Shinawatra’s Thai Rak Thai political party visited Burma, Laos and Singapore to present their vision of the future. According to deputy party leader Surakiat Sathirathai, the presentations went well.

While details are vague, Surakiat noted that Burma?s Lt Gen Khin Nyunt was particularly responsive to the party’s drug suppression platform. This has been a contentious issue in recent Burmese-Thai relations.

Thaksin is no stranger to dealing with Burma. His ties to the country go back several years. In 1994, Thaksin visited Burma and met with Khin Nyunt while serving as Thailand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. His company, Shin Corporation, also has large telecommunications investments in Burma.

And while the date for the next election has yet to be set, analysts believe that Thai Rak Thai is well placed to take the lead in forming the next government with Thaksin as the leader. Thaksin and his party’s relations with Burma could play an important role in future Thai-Burmese relations.

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