News / Asia

Burmese, Thai Leaders Sign Agreement about Economic Zone

Burma President Thein Sein (R) and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (L) review the honor guard during a welcoming ceremony in Bangkok, July 23, 2012.Burma President Thein Sein (R) and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (L) review the honor guard during a welcoming ceremony in Bangkok, July 23, 2012.
x
Burma President Thein Sein (R) and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (L) review the honor guard during a welcoming ceremony in Bangkok, July 23, 2012.
Burma President Thein Sein (R) and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (L) review the honor guard during a welcoming ceremony in Bangkok, July 23, 2012.
Danielle Bernstein
BANGKOK — Burma President Thein Sein is in Thailand, where he signed several key economic agreements with Thailand’s prime minister. One of the projects, a long-planned deep sea port, still faces obstacles.

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Burmese President Thein Sein signed three memorandums of understanding during the president's first trip to Thailand since he took office in 2010.

The agreements included a pledge of the Thai government to help the Burmese government prepare for its role when it assumes the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2014.

Yingluck stressed to reporters that it was especially important to the Thai government that concrete progress be made on the Dawei deep sea port, a project in southern Burma that would allow ships traveling from the Indian Ocean to avoid the Malacca Straits.

She says the two sides agreed that there will be connectivity between the Dawei deep sea port with the Laem Chabang deep sea port in Thailand. She says they have also discussed the development of industrial areas in the Dawei area and development of the eastern seaboard on the Thai side.

ItalThai, the parent company of the project's main developer, has had trouble coming up with funds and MaxMyanmar, the Burmese conglomerate acting as a local implementing partner, shocked investors when it pulled out of the project last month.
Although the port could reduce traffic in the Malacca straits and provide China with an alternative route for oil transport, the benefits of the project to the Burmese economy are not as clear.

Sean Turnell of Australia's Macquarie University points out that Thailand's economy stands to benefit from the project more than Burma's. "All the advantages go to Thailand rather than to Burma. Because really this is about getting quick access to Bangkok and some of the manufacturing outlets of Thailand and natural resources and all sort of things into the country. It's on a tiny arm of Burma," said Turnell. "I mean it really involves really little in the way of Burma's industrial capacity, for instance, or access to Burmese markets."

Burma’s rice export industry has long sought a deep sea port to boost business. But the Dawei deep sea port is too far away from the Irrawaddy river basin, which contains Burma's richest farm land. Yingluck pledged to offer support for the Burmese rice industry, but did not offer specifics.

The two leaders also discussed possibilities for opening additional border crossings, cooperation in economic and infrastructure development, Burmese migrant labor in Thailand and the fight against narcotics.

Yingluck also welcomed the developments taking place in Burma under President Thein Sein's leadership.

Political and economic reforms under the Thein Sein government have lead to increased foreign investment, but rights groups are still quick to admonish the government for its human rights record.

The Burmese Rohingya Association of Thailand staged a protest Monday during the two leaders’ meeting, demanding the Yingluck government pressure Thein Sein to lift the state of emergency in Rakhine state, where ethnic and sectarian violence broke out last month between ethnic Rohingyas and ethnic Rakhines.

Benjamin Zawacki of Amnesty International says that the overall rights situation in Burma, also known as Myanmar, has gotten worse in the past year, despite the landmark political reforms.

"President Thein Sein simply asserts that Rohingyas are not citizens and then, regardless of their actual status, he's currently allowing security forces under the rubric of the state of emergency to commit violations against that ethnic minority. And ,I would point out that it's a glaring mark on the country's human rights record and certainly runs counter to the prevailing narrative that human rights are being improved in Myanmar, across the board."

President Thein Sein will be meeting leaders of the Burmese community in Thailand during a visit to the country's embassy Tuesday, before he returns home.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: jtauthail from: us
July 24, 2012 3:58 AM
any strengthening and unity of asean countries, no matter how tenuous is a very good thing

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs