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Former Thai Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh visits Myanmar

Former Thai Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, left, shakes hands with Burma Vice President Sai Mauk Kham during a meeting in Naypyidaw on Tuesday, May 7, 2013.

Former Thai Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, left, shakes hands with Burma Vice President Sai Mauk Kham during a meeting in Naypyidaw on Tuesday, May 7, 2013.

 

BANGKOK – Former Thai Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh has quietly visited Myanmar and met with Vice President Sai Mauk Kham in the country’s capital of Naypyidaw, according to the Myanmar President Office.

The informal visit to Myanmar by Thailand’s former head of government followed last month’s trip to the Southeast Asian country by another Thai leader, namely Thaksin Shinawatra, brother of the current Thai leader Yingluck Shinawatra.

General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh is a Thai politician and retired general. He was Thailand's 22nd Prime Minister from 1996 to 1997

General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh is a Thai politician and retired general. He was Thailand’s 22nd Prime Minister from 1996 to 1997

That was the second time that Chavalit paid a visit to Myanmar so far this year.

The dates of Chavalit’s arrival and departure to and from the Myanmar capital were not available after he was said to hold a ” business talk” with the Myanmar vice president on Tuesday.

The Thai general was known to have fostered close and cordial relationships with Myanmar’s former junta leaders, including Than Shwe.

According to the Myanmar President Office’s website, Chavalit and Mauk Kham discussed Myanmar’s investment climate and business opportunities for any Thai investor who might be interested to do construction and development projects in the neighboring country.

Earlier this year, a group of Thai business people, reportedly led by Chavalit, visited Mon State in southern Myanmar in a fresh bid to reconstruct an airport in the state capital of Moulmein where Thai private-owned airliners could possibly shuttle tourists from Bangkok and elsewhere in Thailand.

Ahead of Chavalit’s recent visit to Myanmar, Thaksin had flown in and traveled to Maymyo township near Mandalay to meet with Myanmar’s commander in chief Min Aung Hlaing. He attended the so- called Songkran festival which featured the pouring of cool water onto the palm or body of a person as a gesture of respect and admiration during his brief stay in Myanmar.

The globetrotting Thaksin, who has remained in exile since he was deposed in 2006’s coup, was known to have quietly traveled to Myanmar for unknown agenda.

Thaksin earlier admitted that he had visited Myanmar late last year only to “clear the way” for an imminent official visit to the neighboring country by his own sister, Lady Prime Minister Yingluck.

The Yingluck government has been apparently supportive to mega- million projects currently implemented in Myanmar’s Special Economic Zone located in the country’s southernmost town of Dawei, including the construction of a deep-sea port, an industrial estate, power plants with a road and railway to link Dawei with Thailand’s western border province of Kanchanaburi.

by Surasak Tumcharoen

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