Closing the border with Burma is easier than reopening it, according to a 26-year old resident of Tachilek, following the abrupt shut down imposed by the Thai military which took over the reins of the country on Tuesday, September 19.
A lot of time, patience and money are needed to cajole the Burmese generals into agreeing to reopen it, said the businessman who asked not to be named, no matter who closes it first.
The order to seal the border was issued to prevent key members of the deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatras government from fleeing across the border, according to two senior Burma watchers. A precedent has long been set, said one.
General Sant Jitpatima, who had staged the abortive April Fools Day coup in 1981, took flight into Burma and stayed there until June 20, 1981, according to Thai-Burma Relations, a high school reader published by the education ministry in 2001, in the aftermath of the military confrontation between the two countries in February that year.
Former natural resources minister Yongyuth Tiyapairat, whose home is in Chiangrai, opposite Tachilek, and was one of Thaksins top aides, surrendered to coup authorities yesterday.
The closure has not only affected the key border points in Maesai, Maesod, Three Pagodas and Ranong, but also smaller ones in Maehongson province: Huey Pheung, Nampiangdin, Huey Ton Noon and Saohin that had enjoyed a short-lived boom following stiff restrictions put in place by Burmese authorities on Thai goods in July.
Lets hope we have an interim government installed as soon as possible, sighed a Thai businessman in Maesai.
Gen Sondhi Boonyaratglin, leader of the coup, has promised to appoint a government in two weeks.
Shan Herald News Agency: Fri 22 Sep 2006