Opinion: Thailand is Failing Its Neighbor in Myanmar

Anti-junta protest in front of the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok on July 26, 2022.
Anti-junta protest in front of the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok on July 26, 2022.

The execution of four anti-junta activists in Myanmar earlier this week and the Thai government’s reluctance to even condemn the barbaric act of the Burmese junta speak volumes about how the Prayut Chan-o-cha regime has failed to act in a dignified manner.

The only reaction the public heard was from the spokesman of the Foreign Ministry Thanee Saengrat on Tuesday. When asked by reporters, Thanee said the Thai government “deeply regret” the execution of the four men in Myanmar and said violence cannot solve political problems.

I deeply regret that this is the most the Prayut regime will say on the matter as well. In the name of a narrowly defined national interest, some people, some governments, are willing to turn a blind eye to the atrocities happening next door and just say “It’s too bad.” There is little or no dignity or decency left.

The spokesman stopped short of condemning the executions. It is well-known that the Prayut regime, which first came to power in May 2014 when he staged a military coup and the current Foreign Minister, Don Pramudwinai, who was originally appointed by the military junta, are rather chummy with the Burmese junta and its leader Min Aung Hlaing.


At least the Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah condemned the executions and called it “a mockery of ASEAN.”

Prayut had been snubbed by the West for years after the 2014 coup until he was chosen as PM again after the 2019 elections. He managed relative ‘well’ to sugar-coat the oppression when the junta was in power compared to the much more visibly ruthless and brutal Burmese military junta, however.

It is no surprise that they understand one another and feel empathetic as both Min Aung Hlaing and Prayut both overthrew elected government and disrespect the sovereign power of the people.

On the same day, Burmese demonstrators staged a major protest in front of the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok after they learned about the execution by hanging of four anti-junta activists in Myanmar. Thai police did not crack down on them, and this was probably the kindest thing they have done for democracy-loving Burmese in Thailand.

How long will the Thai government allow the Burmese junta to have a free rein in suppressing and killing its opponents and pro-democracy activists? How such conduct of the Thai government, and Thailand, be remembered 30, 40 years or half a century from now?


One thing I do when meeting Vietnamese for the first time soon after being acquainted is to say to the person: “I’m sorry for what Thailand did during the Vietnam War by allowing American planes to kept flying from Thailand to repeatedly drop bombs on your country. (Not that I was old enough to do anything at the time.) The sane could be said about Thailand’s support of the genocidal Khmer Rouge.

It is time for Myanmar’s neighbors to step up pressure on the murderous Burmese junta. Here in Thailand, we have given Prayut too much time to appease the Burmese junta next door.

As dozens more pro-democracy activists are slated to be executed, I fear that in the not-too-distant future, I and other conscientious Thais may have to say similar things upon meeting a Burmese: “Sorry we did too little too late to try to stop the Burmese military junta from suppressing and killing many of your countrymen and women.”