Thailand loves to discuss plans to help its neighbouring countries. “Prosper-Thy-Neighbour” has been the motto for decades for successive Thai governments. Since the end of the Vietnam war and the subsequent rapid economic development period of 1980s, Bangkok has dished out so many strategies and plans to bring about their developmental and improve their standard of living.
The best description of Thailand-Philippine friendship would be as twins separated at birth. Both countries are close allies of the US and each has their ups and downs. They fought side by side as members of the UN-led international forces in the Korean War.
In the spring of 2000 in Bangkok, when Thailand was the Asean chair, Thai foreign minister Dr Surin Pitsuwan said in private to the author that North Korea must be brought into the Asean circle, especially the Asean Regional Forum (ARF), the only region-side security platform, so that Pyongyang’s voice could be heard.
Thailand will soon announce officially the purchase of three Yuan Class S26T Chinese-made submarines worth Bt13.5 billion each after a year of negotiations and study. The procurement of such a mammoth amount of military hardware has both symbolic and strategic significance.
Japan is currently drafting a legal framework with Thailand to allow the future transfer of its defence equipment and technology. If that happens soon, it would represent a significant milestone in their mutual defence cooperation since the end of World War II.
The capital with the world’s longest name is gradually transforming into Geneva of Asia. Is it for real? It is an inspiration of the current military government that the City of Angel will soon become the city of international organizations and conventions filling with civil servants, campaigners and advocators.
On February 14 when Admiral Harry B. Harris of US Pacific Command launches the 36th Cobra Gold joint exercise at Uta-pao airbase, it would send a strong signal to the international community that the US remains engaged strategically in the region as before, especially with its long standing friend and ally of nearly 200 years.
As one of the founding countries of Asean five decades ago, Thailand has a responsibility to ensure that the group is running well and moving towards full implementation of the Asean Community (AC), which is now entering its second year.
At a briefing in Yangon last Monday, Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi expressed appreciation for Thailand’s efforts and understanding of the situation in Rakhine State. She also thanked her eastern neighbour for its ongoing assistance there.