6 June 2024

The Move Forward Party has unveiled its diplomatic policy which aims to strengthen Thailand’s role on the regional and international stages. Some political analysts said that Move Foward’s active policies in this region, including solutions for Myanmar’s issues, would promote Thailand’s leadership in ASEAN and beyond.

Under Move Forward’s foreign policy, the incoming government will take a ‘’Revive, Rebalance, and Recalibrate’’ approach, called the 3Rs, to turn away from quiet diplomacy, lead the region as middle power country and regain mutual benefits with regional countries and superpowers. According to the leader of Move Forward, Pita Limjaroenrat, ‘’rules-based diplomacy’’ will be implemented to lead Thailand back on to the international stage.

Pita also emphasised that the Myanmar’s issues, including the devastation caused by Cyclone Mocha, could be a pivotal opportunity for Thailand to rebuild connections in this region.

‘’I also see this as an opportunity for Thailand to work with other ASEAN members, as well as international organisations and communities, to establish a humanitarian-economic nexus to help alleviate the dire situation in Myanmar over the past couple of years,’’ he said.

Fuadi’s support on Myanmar’s issues

A group of 50 academics joined Pita’s team to develop this active form of foreign policy, including Fuadi Pitsuwan, who is the son of late Thai foreign minister and ASEAN secretary general Surin Pitsuwan.

Fuadi suggested that Thailand should take an active role on the international stage, especially on the issue of Myanmar. He said the party has developed 2 solutions for these issues.

One is a Myanmar inter-agency task force, which will provide a direct communication channel with the Prime Minister. In the Inter-Agency Task Force, there will be experts from various organisations, including institutions related to national security, the army, the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, the Ministry of Labour and Ministry of Finance.

The second solution is to build a humanitarian-economic nexus, which would exploit any silver lining in the relationship between Thailand and Myanmar for an advantageous economic opportunity.

Manpower for Thailand

Fuadi also pointed out that people escaping from Myanmar into Thailand across the 2,400km border include doctors, lawyers and businessmen. Most of them trapped in border provinces such as Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. If Thailand has a policy to provide them with a legitimate status, migrants could provide manpower for Thailand’s labour market, given that Thailand is an aging society.

Pushback

Despite these active policies planned by Move Forward, Myanmar might not accept the type of cooperation envisioned by Pita and his foreign advisory team. According to Myanmar’s local media, Myanmar’s Vice Senior General Soe Win stressed that the Move Forward Party is “pro-West and will “assist terrorists”, so they must watch the border and get information about them, their movements and their activities.

Regarding concerns over a US-leaning stance emerging and that Pita’s policies will bring US influence in Thailand, Fuadi said that the current policy of the caretaker government leans to China and the Move Forward party will simply move Thailand back to the centre, between the US and China. “We had to lean to China because they talk to us more. Right now, we just have to shift back to the centre and develop a foreign policy that is more about ourselves, more tailor-made, more thinking, with more tactics and more tools to be used,’’ he added.

No matter how people support or criticise Move Forward’s policies, Pita has vowed that he is ready to become the next Prime Minister and to put Thailand back in the spotlight on the regional and international stages. The party has unveiled 300 polices to reform the government and to strengthen Thailand’s power in ASEAN and other international organisations.