Army Chief Prayuth Chan-ocha, has warned the government to tread carefully with a four-country mission to protect Chinese cargo boats on the Mekong river that the deal could have territorial implications.
Gen Prayuth issued the warning yesterday after cabinet approval Tuesday of a National Security Council (NSC) proposed by Thailand to join China, Laos and Burma, mounting patrols along the river.
The measure is one of the suggested security measures after 13 Chinese sailors from two cargo ships were killed in early October in a northern section of the Mekong, Chiang Rai Chiang Saen district.
Gen Prayuth said the military has expressed concern with the Ministry of Defence, who discussed the matter with the National Security Council.
“Defense Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa Thailand has agreed to enter into this cooperation agreement carefully,” said Gen. Prayuth. “It [the joint patrol] should not lead to any territorial transgression.”
Thailand should be in charge of the missions if they enter Thai territory, he said.
On Tuesday, General Prayuth said Chinese Ambassador to Thailand Guan Mu Thai army is ready to cooperate with Chinese authorities in the investigation into the death of 13 Chinese sailors and stricter security measures employed.
Mr. Guan said Bangkok and Beijing must turn tragedy into an opportunity to improve the safety of commercial vessels plying the Mekong.
So far, it is not clear who killed the 13 sailors whose bodies were recovered from the sections of the Mekong in Thailand and Laos.
Officials of the Drug Suppression Force Pa Muang Thai Army tasks were initially accused of involvement in the killings, but the working group has pointed the finger at a drug trafficking gang Shan.
The officers discovered 920,000 pills of speed boats and believe that the band seized the vessels to smuggle drugs in Thailand, but were driven away by Thai troops.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Affairs Committee has met with local officials, police and representatives of the Chamber of Commerce to discuss Chiang Rai murder and first-hand information.
Committee Chairman Jullpongsathon Sunai said the information is needed to help get an accurate picture of the issue to avoid Sino-Thai relations damage.
Anna Wong – Chiangrai Times