After nearly three years, Thai-born Shan’s application for a registered association has been approved by Thai authorities, announced the association president Saengmueng Mangkorn yesterday.
The date of approval was 30 March 2012. The association’s founding members were able to hold the first formal meeting only yesterday, due to the Songkran holidays.
Other founding members of Taiyai Education and Culture Association (TECA) include Khanit Wanakamon, retired lecturer from Chiangmai Rajabhat University; Police Lieutenant Colonel Sondhaya Khammongkol; and Mrs Saengrawee Thiel. Shans are known as Taiyai/Thaiyai (Big Thai) in Thailand.
“It has taken so long, because of the name Thaiyai,” said a founding member who requested anonymity. “Had we been other than Thaiyai, it would have been quicker. Thai authorities were worried we might be involved in anti-Naypyitaw activities. Of course, after so many vettings, it was verified beyond doubt we have never participated in any political activities, whether Thai or Burmese.”
Another suggested that probably the recent ceasefire agreement between the Shan State Army (SSA) with Naypyitaw also helped. “Despite long-held suspicions by the Burmese leaders, Bangkok has always been careful in their dealings with Thaiyais,” he added.
Saengmueng and Saengrawee are also active members of the Chiangmai-based Thaiyai Literary and Culture Society that has, for more than 20 years, vibrant in various Shan cultural activities.
(In Thailand, a Chom-Rom, translated as Society, needs not be registered, but a Samakhom or Association and a Mulanithi or Foundation do.)
“The aim is to promote culture and, through this, better understanding between Thaiyais and mainstream Thais,” said Saengmueng.
Sizeable Shan communities in Thailand had been found in Maesot, Mae Sariang, Khun Yuam, Maehongson, Pai, Wiang Haeng, Chiangdao, Fang, Mae Ai, Mae Fa Luang and Mae Sai districts, all adjoining eastern Burma even before the border was demarcated in the late 19th century. Since Independence, war and forced relocations in Burma’s Shan State have brought at least a million more into the kingdom.