By THE IRRAWADDY
Former Thai ambassador to Burma Poksak Nilubol has disclosed in a book titled “Understanding Burma” that his government rejected in 1996 a memo he wrote opposing Burma’s admittance to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Poksak, who wrote the book in collaboration with a former director-general of the Thai Foreign Ministry’s East Asia Department, told The Irrawaddy on Thursday: “When I made a report to the Thai Foreign Office in July 1996, it didn’t just ignore my memo but rejected it.”
Poksak served as Thailand’s ambassador to Burma in Rangoon from late 1994 to the beginning of 1998. During his time in Rangoon, he met opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, with the approval of the Thai government, which reportedly wanted to expand its ties not only with the Burmese government but with the opposition.
The meeting upset the Burmese regime, which pressed for Poksak’s recall. Poksak claimed that during his time in Rangoon he was monitored by intelligence officers.
In his book, Poksak said that other Asean members had also rejected his stand on Burma’s membership of Asean, fearing that if Burma were excluded it would push the country closer to China.
A report on Poksak’s book carried by the Bangkok English-language daily The Nation said the former diplomat warned that a trouble-wracked Burma would continue to cause problems for Thailand because of illegal migrants, human smuggling, border insurgency and illicit drugs.
Poksak charged that Thai politicians and military leaders alike misunderstood Burma. “I don’t think that Thai politicians and military leaders know and understand Burma,” he said.
Poksak said his book also described the influence the renowned soothsayer E Thi had over Thai politicians and Burmese military leaders, who sought advice from the disabled Burmese woman credited with supernatural powers.