While the major Thai-Burma border crossings – like those at Mae Sot and Mae Sai – are reportedly closed, news from Thailand obviously still filters in to Burma. I have not seen any official Burmese reaction to the Thai political situation but this is not really surprising. The Generals are not known for their speedy responses to international events.
The Irrawaddy (a prominent Burmese dissident publication) does have a brief report on “mixed” Burmese reactions to the coup. It includes a strident anti-Thaksin comment:
One activist who requested anonymity said that Thaksin has consistently defended Burma’s military leaders whenever they were attacked by the international community and should be considered an “undemocratic” leader.
The Irrawaddy is also carrying an online commentary – informed as always, by the special perspective of professional Burma-watchers – which concludes that “maybe this was one of the better coups”.
It is still very early days, but the relationship with Burma that evolves under Thailand’s new masters will be worth watching closely. According to the BBC‘s Q & A section:
The coup is also bad news for Western hopes of change in Thailand’s neighbour, Burma. Thailand is one of the few countries with real influence over Burma’s repressive military junta. Gen Sonthi is hardly likely to press Burma’s leaders to introduce democracy, and they will see his coup as a justification for inaction.
While I accept that this is probably true, it is certainly not the only scenario worthy of speculation. Many people in Thailand, including some military officers, have grown tired of Thaksin’s reportedly cosy ties to some of the Generals. The question is – will the Democratic Reform Council be any different?