11 July 2024

Thailand’s plan to send humanitarian assistance to displaced persons inside Myanmar should be followed by a more active role by the current Srettha government in helping find a peaceful solution to the conflict in the country, said chairman of the House committee on foreign affairs Noppadon Pattama.

“It is a good starting point. In fact, it’s something that should have been done long ago,” said Noppadon in an interview with Thai PBS World.

He said humanitarian assistance is part of the five-point consensus of ASEAN designed to help resolve the crisis in Myanmar and as its immediate neighbour Thailand is in a unique position to help push it forward.

Thai Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-nukara revealed the Thai initiative to an informal meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers in Luang Prabang of Laos late last month.  On Thursday he visited the border areas in Tak province which are potential sites for a humanitarian assistance center.

Noppadon cautioned that there must be assurance that such assistance will reach all sides of people in Myanmar without any discrimination.  “Humanitarian assistance should know no boundary. And there must be transparency and accountability,” he said, responding to concerns that it might be taken advantage by the military regime in Myanmar.

The former foreign minister also suggested that besides humanitarian assistance Thailand, as an immediate neighbour sharing a common border stretching over 2,400 kilometres, needs to play an active role in helping find a solution to the crisis in Myanmar.

He said Thailand should engage with all relevant parties in the conflict in Myanmar with an aim of finding a peaceful solution. “I know it’s not going to be easy. But at the end of the day, there is a need for all the conflicting parties to have a dialogue,” he said.

Noppadon said the House committee on foreign affairs has been closely following the crisis in Myanmar and has held a series of discussions with representatives from the armed forces, security agencies, and academics to asses the situation in the country.

He said the committee is probing ways of engaging with representatives of the National Unity Government (NUG) and other factions.  “We are looking at ways to contribute to efforts to help find a peaceful solution to the crisis in Myanmar, but without being seen as interfering with the work of the executive branch,” he said.

By Thepchai Yong