Thai premier praises Myanmar as peaceful and orderly

March 16th, 2008 - 3:12 pm ICT by admin  

Bangkok, March 16 (DPA) Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej Sunday praised Myanmar - deemed a pariah state by most western democraies - as a peaceful and orderly country with a military leader who is a good Buddhist who prays every morning. Samak, who led a government delegation to Myanmar’s capital of Naypyitaw Friday, claimed on his weekly Sunday TV “Samak Talk” programme that the visit had allowed him to see the other side of the coin in Myanmar, which was widely condemned by the international community for brutally cracking down on pro-democracy protests last September that left at least 31 dead and scores missing.

“The general view of this country has always been one-sided, but there are two sides to a coin,” said Samak.

He described the country as being in “peace and order” and Myanmar’s military supremo Senior General Than Shwe, whom he met, as a good Buddhist who meditates and prays daily.

“Killings and suppressions are normal there but we have to know the facts,” said the Thai premier.

Samak, 72, has his own controversial past. A former rightwing nationalist, Samak was a key instigator of a brutal crackdown on pro-democracy student-led protests in Bangkok in 1976, which left at least 46 people dead, according to historical accounts.

In a controversial interview with CNN after Samak became Thailand’s 28th prime minister on Jan 28, he denied any role in the incident and claimed only one person died.

Samak led a delegation to Myanmar Friday to strengthen economic ties with the country, which has come under tighter sanction by the US and European Union since the September incident.

One outcome of the trip is Thailand’s decision to proceed with the construction of a hydropower dam in north-east Myanmar despite protests by environmentalists.

Thai Foreign Minister Noppodon Pattama confirmed Saturday that Thailand will push ahead with the 228-metre-high Tasang dam on the Salween river which has made little progress since the country won a concession to construct the massive project 10 years ago, the Bangkok Post reported Sunday.

Thailand currently ranks as Myanmar’s third-largest foreign investor, with investments reaching $1.34 billion as of last year.

Britain ranks first with $1.56 billion worth of investments in Myanmar, followed by Singapore with $1.43 billion, according to figures compiled by Thailand’s Foreign Trade Department.

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