6 June 2024

Myanmar’s second-most powerful general has issued a directive to his commanders to keep a closer watch on the Thai-Myanmar border after Thailand’s Move Forward Party won the most House seats in the May 14  general election.

According to Irrawaddy, Vice Senior General Soe Win said “The Move Forward Party is pro-West and they will assist terrorists … we have to watch the border and get information about them, their movements and their activities.

The “terrorists” he referred to are anti-Myanmar regime resistance groups active along the border.

The Irrawaddy is an independent news website, founded by Myanmar exiles living in Thailand in 1990.

Move Forward’s leader Pita Limjaroenrat, tipped to be the next premier, has been a consistent critic of Thailand’s policy towards its troubled neighbour.

Soe Win’s concern was likely only compounded when Pita revealed his policy on Myanmar at a post-election press conference on May 15th, saying “We want to push ahead to make sure the Five Point Consensus is really achieved.” The consensus is a peace plan for Myanmar adopted by ASEAN.

Irrawaddy quoted Pita as saying that we would start a humanitarian journey, especially with the Burma Act that passed in the US Congress, adding that we can start that work with the international community to make sure that we have the right amount of pressure and incentives for people to resolve their conflict.”

The Burma Act authorises US funding of non-lethal support for resistance forces in Myanmar.

The current Thai government, under premiership of Prayut Chan-o-cha, has been accused of being too close to the Myanmar junta, with Bangkok insisting it is adhering to ASEAN’s non-interference policy, which prevents its members from interfering in the internal politics of other member states.

Last Saturday, Pita discussed his plans for the regional bloc when he met the visiting World Economic Forum members, stating that his government will revive Thailand’s leading role in ASEAN and work to reduce the violence in Myanmar.

Then, on Sunday, he tweeted in English and Burmese that his thoughts and prayers are with the people of Myanmar, especially those affected by the recent cyclone that devastated the country’s western region.

He urged the Thai caretaker government and the international community to expedite the delivery of humanitarian assistance to those affected by the cyclone.

He said the call was in line with his new foreign policy agenda as PM-elect, adding that his policies on Myanmar will engage all stakeholders, signifying an intention to engage with anti-regime forces while focusing on human security considerations, including the humanitarian and economic aspects.

“These will be implemented with a view to achieving mutual peace and prosperity for Thailand, Myanmar, ASEAN and beyond,” his tweet reads.